Headline News


Iran withdraws bid for IAEA board membership

Source: Xinhua | 10-02-2008 12:34

VIENNA, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Iran announced Wednesday that it would give up its board membership bid in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and would support Syria to become a board member instead, a move that has aroused strong opposition from some western countries.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian ambassador to IAEA, made the announcement while speaking to an Arabic radio station Al-Alam here.

"Iran has officially given up the competition for the membership of board of IAEA and will support Syria for the coming election," he was quoted as saying by local media.

As Pakistan's term in the 35-nation board has already expired, a new member must be elected from the Middle Eastern and South Asian (MESA)-Group at the ongoing 52nd General Conference of IAEA, which started Monday here.

The MESA-Group has a right to fill a rotating board seat this year. Under the IAEA rule, a new member country for the board seat should be decided by negotiations internally inside the MESA-Group.

Now due to Iran's withdrawal and the support for Syria, Syria now has a strong backing from those Arab countries to replace Pakistan on the board, the policy-making body of IAEA.

However, some western countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and some EU countries, have expressed opposition to Syria's participation and criticized that Syria is secretly engaged in some illegal nuclear activities.

Washington has also said the Syrian target which Israeli air force bombed out in September 2007 was an illegal nuclear reactor.

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, however, has said the target was an "unused military building" and that the bombs hit "nothing of consequence."

IAEA has been investigating Syria since May over the U.S. allegations, and it said last week that preliminary findings from inspectors' visit to the site in June showed no evidence of such a reactor as accused by Washington.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei