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. Nuclear powers speak out against Iran
GENEVA, May 9 (AFP) May 09, 2008
The five major nuclear powers on Friday put up a concerted proliferation front against Iran, insisting that its nuclear programme remains a grave concern.

China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States issued a statement reaffirmed which named Iran and expressed strong support for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons treaty (NPT), which many see as under attack.

British Ambassador John Duncan delivered the statement, saying: "The proliferation of nuclear weapons undermines the security of all nations, imperils prospects for progress on other important NPT goals such as nuclear disarmament, and hurts prospects for expanding international nuclear cooperation.

"The proliferation risks presented by the Iranian nuclear programme continue to be a matter of ongoing serious concern to us."

The United Nations has passed sanctions against Iran demanding that it suspend a uranium enrichment programme which some western nations say hides a bid to build a nuclear bomb.

The talks were held to prepare for an NPT review conference in 2010.

While the group cited both Iran and North Korea specifically, Syria, which has recently been accused of secretly building a nuclear reactor for military purposes, was not included.

Christopher Ford, US special representative on nuclear affairs, said the Syria case is "rapidly evolving".

Therefore, it was "wisest to leave the Syria situation to those people who are deeply engaged on this topic around the world right now," and focus on the conference preparations.

He pointed out that it is the first time that the five nations have issued a statement during preparatory committee talks and that such statements are usually issued only during the review conference.

Last week, a non-profit organisation that aims to reduce nuclear danger pointed out that some 300 more nuclear facilities planned at a time when key treaties that have helped to maintain nuclear peace are running out.

As countries seek fuel alternatives with little environmental impact, some are turning to nuclear energy, which emits no greenhouse gases, said the group.

"The tragedy is that this move to nuclear power.. coincides with the crumbling of much of regulatory structure over nuclear power - not nuclear civil power but weapons power," said Shirley Williams, a member of the board of Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

Besides the NPT which comes up for review in 2010, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia known as Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is due to expire in 2009.

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