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Iran wants U.N. to ban attacks on nuclear plants

Aug. 14, 2009 at 5:28 PM   |   Comments

VIENNA, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Iran wants the United Nations to vote on a proposal that would prohibit attacks on nuclear installations anywhere across the world. As a first step Iran has secured discussion on the topic at the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency general conference in September.

A spokesman for the Vienna-based IAEA told United Press International IEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei received a formal request Wednesday from Iran's ambassador and resident representative, Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

The request means that Soltanieh's proposal for "prohibition of armed attack or threat of attack against nuclear installations, during operation or under construction" would be tabled when the general conference begins its weeklong deliberations Sept. 14.

The spokesman said it was difficult to tell when during the five-day talks Iran's proposal, accompanied by an explanatory memorandum, could come up for discussion.

"In that letter, Iran formally requested that the proposal be presented at the International Atomic Energy Agency's general conference in September," Soltanieh told Iran's Fars News Agency.

"The protection of such installations is of great importance," he added.

Soltanieh cited an earlier Iranian initiative in September 1990 when the IAEA general conference passed a resolution, proposed by Iran, entitled "Prohibition of All Armed Attacks Against Nuclear Installations Devoted to Peaceful Purposes Whether Under Construction or in Operation."

Soltanieh said, "It is necessary to protect such facilities as the number of nuclear installations has increased since then," he said. "It is undoubtedly a matter of concern for all countries." The memorandum, made available to UPI by the IAEA, cited 400 nuclear power plants and more than 300 reactors and other nuclear facilities worldwide that needed protection from attack.

"The proposal will surely be supported by other countries and will pave the way for discussing and approving a resolution in this regard at the IAEA general conference," Soltanieh concluded.

Amid media reports that the proposal could be designed to forestall any Israeli action against Iranian nuclear installations, Soltanieh told Fars News Agency Iran was not afraid of Israel and that the move was aimed at defending nuclear facilities wherever they are.

The Iranian government memorandum referred to the radioactive fallout caused by the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine, in April 1986. "Any release of radioactive material, as a result of an accident or from a deliberate release, due to terrorist act or military attack, has serious radiological consequences."

An attack on a nuclear facility would also create a situation that would make it necessary for the U.N. Security Council to intervene, said the memorandum.

Analysts said the U.N. agency would likely pass an Iran-backed resolution, with or without any challenge from other members, but does not have any power to enforce it.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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