Iran tells developing states to fight UN ‘bias’

Iran’s president called on Tuesday for developing nations to unite against what he said was bias by the United Nations Security Council, which the Islamic Republic accuses of siding with the West in a nuclear row.

Iran wants to broaden international support for what it says is a peaceful drive to use nuclear technology but which the United States and the West says is a bid to make atomic bombs.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told ministers from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran that the Security Council and other world bodies were being manipulated by some world powers.

He accused the powers of trying to deny others peaceful nuclear energy while they themselves stockpiled atomic weapons.

”The major powers are on a descending course. The extent of their influence drops day by day. They are approaching the end of their era,” Ahmadinejad told the gathering.

NAM, now with 118 members plus observers, was set up in 1961 to group many newly independent nations which wanted to avoid being caught up in the Cold War between Moscow and Washington. It has struggled to stay relevant since the Soviet Union fell.

The movement has previously voiced support for Iran’s peaceful use of nuclear energy and backed Tehran’s cooperation with the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

A draft statement, obtained by Reuters, echoed this. But diplomats working on the statement said it was ”watered down” from a more strongly worded document initially proposed by Iran.

”Any measure to change the world conditions and realise the joint interests of member states will not be possible except through effective efforts and collective cooperation of member states,” Ahmadinejad said in his address.

He called for an ”arbitration council” to mediate in disputes and a fund to back development in NAM.

He said the Security Council would never issue a resolution against the United States, Iran’s arch-foe, as long as Washington, like four other big powers, had a permanent seat. The permanent council members have veto powers.

‘Watered down’
”We only pray that Iran, together with the International Atomic Energy Agency, together with the … big powers, sit down and resolve this matter amicably,” Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.

Diplomats on working group drawing up a statement on Iran’s atomic programme said Iran had proposed that NAM describe UN sanctions imposed on Iran as political and that it call for their swift removal. They said this point had been dropped.

”It is very watered down,” said one Asian diplomat. ”The members don’t speak with one voice on this issue.”

Diplomats said those against Iran’s initial draft included regional rival Saudi Arabia and Egypt, with which Iran does not have full ties. The United Arab Emirates, which has a border dispute with Iran, was also against it as were some non-Arabs.

However, the draft included a call for all parties to resolve the dispute in talks ”without any preconditions”, a point Iran often stresses, and said any attack on peaceful nuclear facilities would violate UN and international law.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if Iran’s nuclear row cannot be resolved by diplomacy.

Six world powers — the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have offered Iran nuclear, trade and other incentives if its suspends uranium enrichment, a process that can have both civilian and military uses.

Iran has refused. It has also, so far, not given any sign it is ready to freeze expansion of its nuclear work in return for a halt to steps to impose more UN sanctions, a proposal aimed at getting preliminary talks going before formal talks start.

Western powers on July 19 gave Iran two weeks to respond. Russia, which takes a softer line, has opposed such deadlines. – Reuters

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