NAM supports Iran over N-issue
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NAM supports Iran over N-issue

The world's biggest bloc after the United Nations, however, condemned Israel for occupying Palestinian lands.

india Updated: May 30, 2006 18:50 IST

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), world's biggest bloc after the United Nations, emphatically backed Iran on Tuesday in its nuclear standoff with the United States, and condemned Israel for occupying Palestinian lands.

Meeting in Malaysia's administrative capital, the foreign ministers of NAM member nations also demanded that Israel accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty without delay, and open its nuclear facilities to international inspection.

On Iran, the ministers "reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right" of all countries to develop, produce and use atomic energy "for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination and in conformity with their respective legal obligations," said a NAM declaration at the end of the two-day meeting.

The declaration shies away from any criticism of Iran, which is accused by Washington and its allies of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to produce nuclear weapons.

Tehran has denied this, saying its nuclear program is merely to generate electricity. Iran has also said it will not give up its right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel as allowed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory.

The United States has said military action is an option if Iran does not bow. The NAM declaration said the ministers "reaffirmed the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities -- operational or under construction -- poses a great danger to human beings and the environment."

It said an attack would also be a "grave violation of international law, principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and regulations of the IAEA," the International Atomic Energy Agency.

NAM's 116 members -- two were admitted on Tuesday -- are mostly developing countries that have little clout in the international arena. Some are stridently anti-US nations such as Iran, North Korea and Cuba in addition to formerly pro-Soviet India.

While NAM is in no position to change U.S. views on Iran, its collective voice can be seen as providing moral support to Tehran.

First Published: May 30, 2006 16:46 IST