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. Nuclear powers clash with Iran at non-proliferation conference
VIENNA, May 10 (AFP) May 10, 2007
Nuclear weapons states warned Thursday that peaceful use of nuclear energy requires honoring the Non-Proliferation Treaty but Iran rejected charges it is failing to do this.

"The Iranian nuclear program does not currently respect the conditions set in the treaty for the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy," French ambassador Jean-Francois Dobelle told 130 states at a conference in Vienna on improving the 189-nation NPT, the world's basic agreement against the spread of nuclear weapons.

The UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency "has determined that Iran is not respecting its (NPT) safeguards agreement," Dobelle said, referring to IAEA resolutions that Tehran has hidden sensitive nuclear work and is not fully cooperating with IAEA inspectors.

The UN Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran for defying a call to stop enriching uranium, and the five permanent Council members plus Germany met in Berlin Thursday to discuss how to handle the crisis.

The United States is the leading nation in charging that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a peaceful program to generate atomic power.

But Iranian official Hamid Baeidi Nejad said it was "unwarranted ... to take legally flawed, unnecessary and unjustified action against the peaceful nuclear program of my country."

He said UN sanctions against Iran for continuing to enrich uranium were aimed "at depriving our nation of its inalienable rights" to a civilian nuclear program under IAEA statutes.

The conference in Vienna is the first of several meetings ahead of a general review in 2010 of the landmark treaty, which came into effect in 1970 and which many complain has a flaw since it allows states to peacefully develop technology that can also be used to make atom bombs.

North Korea developed nuclear weapons after withdrawing from the NPT.

Iran had held up debate here for six days as it objected to an agenda item calling for full compliance with the NPT but diplomats said serious work was finally underway this week, with the meeting to end Friday.

British ambassador John Duncan told reporters: "Despite the best efforts of the Iranians, this conference has really demonstrated the common interest of the world community in dealing with nuclear issues."

Duncan said the meeting was "characterized by an open and often frank dialogue and that represents a watershed in recent arms control and disarmaments discussions. That is very encouraging for the future."

The conference also debated a the idea of a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, as Arab nations criticized Israel for developing nuclear weapons and for not signing the NPT.

Indonesian representative Triyono Wibowo on behalf of the non-aligned movement noted "with regret that no progress has been achieved with regard to Israel's accession to the treaty."

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