(Reuters) – Iran’s president faces off with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday at the start of a meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a pact Washington and Tehran accuse each other of violating.
Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing the capability to produce atomic weapons, will be one of the most hotly debated topics on the sidelines of the month long NPT review conference, a meeting held every five years to assess compliance and problems with the treaty.
Western diplomats in New York expect Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to mark the opening of the conference by accusing the United States and its allies of using fears about proliferation as a pretext to deny developing nations access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in breach of the NPT.
It is an argument that has resonated well in the past with developing nations, which account for the majority of the 189 signatories of the landmark 1970 arms control treaty. The NPT is intended to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and calls on those with atomic warheads to abandon them.
Western envoys say their fears about Iran are now shared by many Arab states and other developing nations. The United States, Britain, Germany and France are negotiating with Russia and China on a possible fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes.