News / Middle East

UN Airs New Concerns After Iran Says Nuclear Program Peaceful

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, August 30, 2012.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, August 30, 2012.
VOA News
Iran's Supreme Leader says his country is not pursuing nuclear weapons but will not give up its national right for peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke to the Non-Aligned Movement's summit meeting in Tehran Thursday, even as the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog publicized new concerns about Iran's controversial nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has more than doubled the production capacity of its uranium enrichment program at a secure underground site known as Fordo.

The U.N. agency also said in a report Thursday that "extensive activities" - referring to an alleged purge of clean-up evidence - at Iran's Parchin military complex would hinder its ability to investigate the scope of Iran's nuclear work.

On Wednesday, the U.N. watchdog announced that it had created a task force to investigate Iran's nuclear program.

Enrichment controversial

The enrichment is controversial because it brings uranium to a level close to what is needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes and the enriched uranium is needed for medical research.

But the United States, Israel and other some countries believe Iran is secretly trying to build nuclear weapons.   

Iran has been seeking to use its previously-scheduled three-year leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement to gain support for its policy on nuclear enrichment, and for its opposition to Israel and the West.
The supreme leader's speech also took aim at the U.N. Security Council, describing it as illogical, unjust and a defunct relic of the past that the United States uses "to impose their bullying manner on the world."

In remarks at the same conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Iran to ease concerns by "fully complying" with Security Council resolutions and cooperating with the IAEA.  Iran is under a series of U.N. sanctions for defying Council resolutions on its enrichment program.

Officials say that at a private meeting Wednesday, the secretary-general called on Iranian leaders to take "concrete" steps to address international concerns about its nuclear program, as speculation grows of a possible Israeli airstrike on Iran's enrichment facilities.

Ban called on both Iran and Israel to tone down their rhetoric.

The U.N. Security Council has rejected Iran's assurances of a peaceful nuclear program in the absence of inspections and an agreement not to enrich uranium beyond a middle level of purity.

The Non-Aligned Movement was organized during the Cold War to provide a forum for countries that were allied with neither the United States nor the Soviet Union. But since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 the grouping has struggled for both identity and clout.

Iran criticized

Iran faced some critical comments at the summit on Thursday on issues besides its nuclear program.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi launched a sharp attack on Iran's ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying he leads an "oppressive" regime that has lost its legitimacy. The Syrian delegation walked out in protest.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took a more moderate line on Syria, calling for a political process to end the conflict.

And he struck a popular Non-Aligned Movement theme by calling for a greater voice for developing countries on world issues. But he also called for action on issues in which Iran is involved.

"These include international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the menace of maritime piracy, the growing threat to cyber security and the growing challenge of pursuing ecologically sustainable development,'' Singh said.

Iran benefits limited

Iran expert Mark Fitzpatrick of London's International Institute for Strategic Studies says Iran will get some benefit from its leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement, but as Thursday's session illustrated, the benefits will be limited.

"I think Iran will be able to utilize its leadership of the NAM in ways favorable to Iran's foreign policy," he said. "But whether this means that Iran can persuade other countries in the NAM to take steps that they wouldn't otherwise take, these are just 'talk shops.' They don't have any practical impact."

Fitzpatrick says having 120 countries represented at the meeting, with more than two dozen heads of state and government, does at least temporarily ease Iran's diplomatic isolation.

But he and other experts say it was bound to be difficult for Iran to convince so many diverse countries to adhere to its policy agenda, particularly when most of the countries are participating in the sanctions and many have voted against Iran at U.N. nuclear watchdog meetings.

VOA's Al Pessin contributed to this report from London.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
by: Michael from: USA
September 01, 2012 8:17 AM
If the extensive clean-up activity in Parchin is a project to erase evidence, then it is contradictory to investigate that very place at which the project was finished. Unless this was designed to throw inspectors off the trail

by: Azer from: New York
August 31, 2012 10:09 AM
According to the Shiite religion any Muslim can and should lie to protect himself and stay away from harm.

by: Mahtab from: US
August 31, 2012 10:06 AM
Some people Here have no idea what they are talking about , This regime is the most deceiving Regime that world has ever seen , it started from a lie and it's continuing its existence with lies I Don't understand how some people can point the finger to the western countries and say They should back up while Iran regime is Killing its own people , its own students in the prisons , while its arresting , raping and torturing its free thinking women and men . Now This regime is pursuing It's islamic Goal which is to take over the world ( the same one prophet muhammad was to achieve ) , Can't any body see or does any body know that muslims are allowed to Lie to the whole world if its to the benefit of islam ? This man is one of the most brutal and cruel dictators of the history , Its insanity to believe what he EVER says .

by: Grant from: Michigan
August 31, 2012 8:29 AM
The current occupying regime in Iran has a long history of lying to the world, and to its so called "people". the regime calls itself a islamic republic (which it is neither) and for that if they make up a lie and say it is in defense of islam, than all is well in there crazy bizarro world. just ask all the other groups that were not the islamists that helped defeat the Shah's government and secure the seat of power to the current evil empire. when the other groups that fought in the revolution asked about inclusion in the new country or the lack thereof, the Ayatollah said "I lied for the good of islam". The only assurances you get from a liar is that they are LYING. once they do their first nuke test there is no going back. and just like North Korea there is nothing we will be able to do about it. so ofcourse they are just letting the clock run.

by: mervin from: Zambia
August 31, 2012 3:08 AM
Western media has never being fair towards Iran and other countries.Iran has a right to exist without fear of attack due to its full right to nuclear technology,Israel has it so why not Iran.West media has to balance it all like what other media do
In Response

by: Plain Mirror from: Abidjan
September 01, 2012 11:05 AM
The mirror is simply plain in this comment. When US, Israel and their pallies build, it is for peace and when others build, it would no more be for peace. Blame the US and its allies who started this whole show.

by: Clarence from: Caribbean
August 30, 2012 7:44 PM
It is high time for the americans and israelis to stop this parrot repetition about 'israel's right to exist'. It is not just israel's right but every country as well, including iran. so to attack iran for developing their own nuclear energy programme is denying iran its own rights to exist and to determine its own destiny
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 31, 2012 6:01 AM
Sure thing, You are right. Did someone attacked Iran and we didn't find out yet?
In Response

by: Sim
August 31, 2012 1:56 AM
It is the right of Iran to exist, not to threaten other countries, which it does, deliberatly. If Iran achieves nuclear power, there is a high chance it will try finishing what Hitler started. That is why it must be stopped. If you dont understand that, you are a very sad example of liberal fed supidity.

by: nadia from: california
August 30, 2012 5:52 PM
Biggest terrorist=Israeli Government! How many wars has Israel started in the past? MANY. Stop threatning Iran.

by: Mike from: Ohio
August 30, 2012 4:39 PM
Excuse me... Mr. brag about Iranian oil....but wouldn't you hurt your own oil business if you went to nuclear power?
In Response

by: sceptic from: LA
August 31, 2012 1:49 AM
US has a lots of oil and nuclear energy still looking for more better greener energy . its called progress . why can't they progress ?

by: kt from: Ledyard
August 30, 2012 3:01 PM
Even though we do sanctions like McCain said during the Republican Convention, Iran will still be backed by China

by: Briny from: USA
August 30, 2012 2:00 PM
The UN has stated that the Iranian program is producing uranium fuel that is enriched far in excess of that needed for energy production; it is in fact weapons-grade fuel. Kahmenei is practicing the age-old Shite tradition of taquiya-dissemulation, or lying to unbelievers-and only self-deluded fools will take him at his word.
In Response

by: Clarence from: Caribbean
August 30, 2012 8:06 PM
Briny, it is most unfortunate that you have allowed yourself to be brainwashed by your own spin-doctored media houses to be able to see the real facts.

Saddam was berated for having non-existent WMD and your media was in the vanguard at reporting this and have to this day never retracted their original stories. Even the UN is seen as a tool of the west; how can you not see through their hypocrisy?

Even if Khameni is lying; he is not alone; he is just a part of the system that encompasses america, the country that perhaps have the most brazen liars on earth.
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