27 May 2006 - IMPORTANCE OF PEACEFUL SOLUTION TO IRAN NUCLEAR CRISIS HIGHLIGHTED AT MEETING OF NATO POLITICIANS [PRESS COMMUNIQUE]
The Iranian nuclear issue is the most pressing and urgent political problem facing the world today, a leading NATO parliamentarian said today (Saturday).
Michael Mates, Chairman of the NATO-PA's Science and Technology Committee (STC), warned: "the scene is moving very fast and in a dangerous direction" and called for extra efforts to resolve it as quickly as possible.
Mr Mates, UK, was speaking shortly after the STC of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, which is currently holding its Spring Session in Paris, agreed on the text of a resolution concerning Iranian nuclear policy to be placed before the Full Plenary sitting of 310 parliamentarian members next Tuesday, May 30.
"We (the NATO PA) are determined to stress the importance of continuing to push for a political and diplomatic solution in the hope that we do not have to resort to sanctions or other measures and in the hope that the Iranian government receives the message that a diplomatic solution is the preferred option of European politicians. We hope that they will be able to respond to our initiative in a constructive manner," Mr Mates added.
The case of Iran "clearly illustrates the vulnerabilities of the current international system of nuclear non-proliferation… if unchallenged, Iran's example could be emulated by its neighbours."
Under Article IV of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a Non-Nuclear Weapons State is given an "inalienable right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy" only if it agrees to forego nuclear weapons capability and to cooperate fully with the IAEA under the Safeguards agreement. The major difficulty, she stressed, is that the present international norm is too permissive.
Ms Strofova added that, unfortunately, the NPT Review Conference in New York in May 2005, expected to address these issues, ended without any result. "It is particularly disappointing, as the next conference will take place only in 2010. The differences over Iran were one of the major reasons for the lack of any positive outcome to the conference. Despite the failure of the Review Conference, follow-up meetings should continue in all possible formats".
The STC was also addressed by Middle East expert Anoush Ehhteshami of Durham University in the UK, who gave a comprehensive outline of the factors which had influenced the development of Iran's nuclear programme and the problems associated with finding a solution to the dilemma.
He stressed that the United States and Iran should meet face to face to fully discuss this issue. He referred to the strength of public opinion in Iran but warned that at all costs we must protect the NPT as it is "still the most valuable instrument in the control of world wide nuclear proliferation."
The NATO-PA's five-day session brings together some 310 national parliamentarians from the 26 NATO countries, 13 associate delegations from Central and Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Russia; 3 Mediterranean Associate delegations from Algeria, Jordan, Israel and several nations with observer status.