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Iran Firm at Nuclear Conference | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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VIENNA, Austria, (AP) -Iran refused to budge Tuesday in opposing the agenda language of a 130-nation nuclear conference, stalling the meeting for its seventh straight day and leading organizers to contemplate ending it prematurely without result.

Delegates said Iran had not moved on its insistence on changes in the text of the agenda of the conference, which is meant to work on strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The intransigence appeared to doom the chance that a compromise floated by South Africa would be accepted by consensus — the traditional way of decision-making at such meetings. That, in turn, delegates said, could lead the chairman of the gathering to declare its end in failure — or adjourn it until Friday, in a face-saving move that would allow it to end on schedule but without any substantive work being done.

The other alternative would be a highly irregular vote, further hardening the fronts and possibly dooming future annual meetings leading up to the 2010 treaty review conference because of insistence by many delegations that consensus decisions are key.

Tehran is refusing to accept a phrase calling for the “need for full compliance with” the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

It argues the language could lead to its becoming a target at the meeting because of its refusal to meet U.N. Security Council demands to cease uranium enrichment and other parts of its nuclear program that could be misused to make nuclear weapons.

“The Iranians seem chiefly interested in seeing this meeting fail,” said one of the delegates, suggesting Tehran’s main focus was preventing any debate on its defiance of a U.N. Security Council demand that it stop all aspects of its uranium enrichment program.

Another delegate, from a nonaligned country — a group that normally backs Iran on nuclear issues — said that even among nonaligned nations “the mood was bad” because of Tehran’s unyielding stance.

All diplomats at the meeting spoke on condition of anonymity in exchange for divulging confidential information.

Chief Iranian delegate Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, asked about his country’s position, said only, “we are still talking.”

The meeting, originally planned to end this Friday, adjourned last Friday to give the Iranian delegation time to decide on whether to accept the South African compromise proposal.

That suggestion would have the conference decide whether to accept an appended statement specifying that “all provisions” of the treaty must be fully observed — including the need for the United States and other nuclear weapons states to disarm.

A decision again was postponed on Monday after the Iranian delegation asked for more time.

In Stockholm, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki suggested the onus was on other nations at the meeting to break the deadlock by accepting Tehran’s demand.

“We do believe there is a possibility of compromise on this issue. But only through the acceptance of more responsibility by some specific parties,” he said. In an oblique slap at the United States and its allies, he said the problem was due to “the unilateral approach of some specific parties.”

Iran argues it is entitled to enrich under the treaty provision giving all pact members the right to develop peaceful programs. But suspicions bred by nearly two decades of clandestine nuclear activities, including questionable black market acquisitions of equipment and blueprints that appear linked to weapons plans have led the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions because of Tehran’s refusal to mothball its enrichment program — which can generate energy or produce the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty calls on nations to pledge not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment by five nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China — to move toward nuclear disarmament. India and Pakistan, known nuclear weapons states, remain outside the treaty, as does Israel, which is considered to have such arms but has not acknowledged it.