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Iran to slam U.S. at talks on treaty for nuclear arms

- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

UNITED NATIONS -- Iran is preparing to criticize the United States and other nuclear powers at a major meeting this week on the troubled nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by slamming U.S. cooperation with Israel and India.

Four working papers prepared for the meeting by Iran and obtained by Reuters show that Tehran is redoubling its efforts to draw attention away from its own nuclear program by turning the spotlight on Washington for what it says are clear breaches of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Western diplomats say.

The signatories of the treaty, which is aimed at halting the spread of nuclear arms and demands that those with atomic arsenals take steps to get rid of them, gather Monday to prepare for a major conference in 2010 that many countries hope will result in an overhaul of the landmark treaty.

They want the nuclear powers to make good on disarmament pledges and agree on a plan to end loopholes that have enabled states such as North Korea, which withdrew from the pact in 2003 and tested a nuclear device in 2006, to develop atomic weapons under cover of civilian nuclear energy programs.

The United States and its allies say Iran's nuclear program is a covert quest for atomic weapons. Tehran denies the charge and has refused to halt uranium enrichment despite three rounds of U.N. sanctions imposed by the Security Council.

In the four papers that Iran's delegation submitted for the May 4-15 conference, Tehran says Washington is in clear breach of the treaty by developing new atomic weapons and providing nuclear aid to Israel and India. Neither country has signed the treaty, but India has nuclear weapons and Israel is presumed to have built up a nuclear arsenal.

Iran also criticizes Washington, Britain and France for working to prevent it and other developing countries from having complete nuclear energy programs. Diplomats from developing nations say Iran has many supporters on this issue because of fears among poorer states that the rich Western powers want to keep their monopoly on nuclear technology.

President Obama last month called for a "world without nuclear weapons," new disarmament talks with Russia and more nuclear cooperation with developing countries.

Iran makes no mention in its treaty papers of the new U.S. stance, nor of the fact that Mr. Obama has offered direct talks with Iran nearly 30 years after Washington severed ties with Tehran over a hostage crisis.

Under the treaty, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China were allowed to keep their atomic arsenals but were obliged to enter into talks on getting rid of them.

"The risk of proliferation posed by certain nuclear weapon states is the most essential and immediate danger threatening the nonproliferation regime," Iran says in one paper, adding that this should be the focus of this week's meeting - not the "risks of proliferation of non-nuclear weapon states."

"Nuclear disarmament obligations have been totally overlooked and access to peaceful nuclear materials and technologies have been denied," Iran says.

The point of the two-week meeting is to clear a path for a monthlong review conference next year, which will take stock of the pact and possibly amend it. Delegates aim to agree on an agenda and make recommendations for the 2010 conference.