NAM Urged to Defend Iran's Right to Nuclear Program

In a clear reference to the United States' efforts to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said there should be one set of rules for everybody.

Members of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) pose for a group photo at International Convention Center in Putrajaya, Malaysia, May 29, 2006 (AFP Photo)

"Allowing Israel to develop nuclear weapons with impunity -- which it does not deny -- while others in the region are prohibited from doing so, is a blatant case of double standards," he said.

"It has created a destabilising asymmetry in a volatile part of the world," he added. "We must recognise Iran's right to develop such technology for peaceful purposes."

Mr. Abdullah said that NAM, which is made up of mostly developing countries, will continue to defend the right of all signatories to the non-proliferation treaty to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

He also called for an immediate resolution to the Palestinian crisis, describing it as "one of the most profound tragedies of our time".

"The so-called peace process now lies in tatters," he said, calling for an end to sanctions and saying the conflict would not end until the rights of the Palestinian people were recognised.

He called for recognition of the Hamas government and said that it "must be engaged through contacts and dialogue, not shunned or ostracised and sanctioned."

Abdullah described the results of the US-led war on terrorism as "patchy at best" and that it had failed to tackle the root causes of terrorism.

"The situation in Iraq, in Palestine and in Afghanistan, once resolved, will have a defining effect on the fight against terrorism and indeed on the slide in the relations between the West and the Islamic world as a whole," he said.

Abdullah also criticised the sprawling NAM movement, which embraces democracies and thriving economies as well as international outcasts Myanmar and North Korea, for its lack of unity.

"We are sometimes unable to use our numerical strength to its best advantage. This poses a real challenge to the chair of the movement," he said.

Malaysia, the current NAM chair, will hand over the three-year chairmanship to Cuba later this year.

Source: AFP

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