Iran, pressed on nuclear activities, wraps up summit

Iran, pressed on nuclear activities, wraps up summit
# 01 September 2012 02:46 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Iran on Friday closed a summit of non-aligned states after two days of sometimes conflictual speeches over Syria and stepped-up pressure over its nuclear programme that overshadowed the proceedings, APA reports quoting Associated Press.

Representatives from the 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement adopted a document that condemned unilateral sanctions, backed the right of Iran and other states to peaceful nuclear energy, and supported the creation of a Palestinian state, Iranian media reported.

The document also reportedly advocated nuclear disarmament, human rights free from political agendas and opposition to racism and "Islamophobia". The text was not available late Friday on the foreign ministry website dedicated to the summit.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chaired the closing ceremony, reflecting his country’s presidency of the NAM for the next three years, after which it will pass to Venezuela.

With around 30 heads of state or government attending, and senior officials filling out the other two-thirds of the heavily secured hall, Iran portrayed the summit as a triumph over Western attempts to isolate it over its disputed nuclear activities.

Ahmadinejad said the summit was "unique in quality and in the number of participants."

But the nuclear issue came back to take a bite out of that goal, with the UN atomic watchdog releasing a report half way through the summit accusing Iran of having "significantly hampered" inspectors’ efforts to investigate a suspect military site, Parchin.

The report also said Iran had in the past three months installed more than 1,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges in its fortified Fordo nuclear bunker that is one of the prime concerns of the United States and fellow permanent UN Security Council members.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his opening speech on Thursday, railed against the "dictatorship" of the Security Council.

He said Iran would "never" cease its nuclear energy activities, which he asserted were not aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi also rejected the Parchin allegations, telling the ISNA news agency they had "no technical basis" and that "one cannot clean a site" of nuclear work.

A member of the Iranian parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, called the timing of the release of the International Atomic Energy Agency report "politically motivated."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who attended the summit over criticism from the United States and Israel, spent much of his visit hammering Iran’s leaders for defying UN resolutions demanding that they curb their nuclear programme.

In speeches and meetings, he stressed "the cost of Iran’s current trajectory" and said that "any country at odds with the international community... finds itself isolated from the thrust of common progress."

Ban warned that international tensions over the issue risked degenerating into "a war of violence," implicitly referring to Israeli and US threats to possibly bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The UN chief also tackled Iran on its human rights record and suppression of political dissent.

He called on Tehran to release "opposition leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and social activists" to promote public discourse ahead of a 2013 presidential election to choose Ahmadinejad’s successor.

On Syria, Ban urged all sides to stop fighting, but said the Damascus government "had the primary responsibility... to halt its use of heavy weapons."

He said "all those actors who may be providing arms to both sides... must stop."

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who handed over the NAM chair to Iran on Thursday in the first visit by an Egyptian head of state since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, also embarrassed Tehran on Thursday by publicly siding with the Syrian opposition.

He called the Syrian insurgency a struggle for democracy against an "oppressive" regime, in the same vein as the Arab Spring revolts that brought him to power in June.

The remarks prompted the Syrian government delegation at the summit to walk out during Morsi’s speech.

Iranian state media made little to no mention of the contentious comments by Ban and Morsi.