Alexander G. Higgins / Associated Press – 2008-05-07 23:35:35
GENEVA (May 5, 2008) — An Iranian envoy said Monday his government will not submit to extensive nuclear inspections while Israel stays outside the global treaty to curb the spread of atomic weapons.
“The existing double standard shall not be tolerated anymore by non-nuclear-weapon states,” Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told a meeting of the 190 countries that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Nuclear safeguards are far from universal, he said, adding that more than 30 countries are still without a comprehensive safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure full cooperation with that U.N. body.
“Israel, with huge nuclear weapons activities, has not concluded” such an agreement or submitted its facilities to the IAEA’s safeguards, Soltanieh said.
Israel, which does not discuss whether it has atomic weapons, did not sign the nonproliferation treaty, which requires all signatories except the major powers to refrain from obtaining nuclear arms. India and Pakistan, which have developed nuclear weapons, also are not signatories.
Iran did sign the treaty and is under U.N. Security Council sanctions meant to pressure the Tehran government into allowing inspections that will ensure it isn’t developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its atomic program is peaceful, with the sole goal of using reactors to generate electricity.
A U.S. envoy accused Iran of “provocative and destabilizing activities” and said its leaders were responsible for leading the country into the sanctions imposed by the Security Council.
“The path of defiance is also the path of isolation, of continuing and additional sanctions and of further stunted economic opportunities for a proud and sophisticated people already suffering from economic turmoil and mismanagement by its regime’s leaders,” said Christopher A. Ford, U.S. special representative for nuclear nonproliferation.
Ford said Iran joined North Korea and Syria in weakening the nonproliferation treaty.
“This treaty regime faces today the most serious tests it has ever faced: the ongoing nuclear weapons proliferation challenges presented by Iran, by North Korea and now by Syria,” Ford said.
Ford cited U.S. intelligence that North Korea was helping Syria in “secretly constructing a nuclear reactor that we believe was not intended for peaceful purposes.” Syria denied last week that it was working on an undeclared reactor, which purportedly was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike last September.
Soltanieh said nuclear-armed powers like the United States, Britain and France are practicing “nuclear apartheid” by denying or restricting peaceful atomic technology to countries like Iran.
“Access of developing countries to peaceful nuclear materials and technologies has been continuously denied to the extent that they have had no choice than to acquire their requirements for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including for medical and industrial applications, from open markets,” Soltanieh said.
This usually means the material is more expensive, poorer quality and less safe, he said.
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