updated 5/2/2007 4:35:05 PM ET 2007-05-02T20:35:05

Iran's objections to language calling for total compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on Wednesday led organizers at a meeting reviewing the pact to postpone the next session to give time to search for a compromise.

At issue is Iran's refusal to accept a phrase calling for the "need for full compliance with" the treaty. That position has delayed adoption of the agenda since the conference, meant to work on tightening up the treaty, opened Monday.

The need to strengthen the treaty has most recently been illustrated not only by the case of Iran, but also North Korea. While North Korea pulled out in 2003 and went on to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran argues it has a right to pursue uranium enrichment under the treaty — even though it is under U.N. sanctions for refusing Security Council demands that it stop the activity.

Iran maintains that its nuclear activities — including the program to enrich uranium that has led to U.N. sanctions — comply with the treaty.

Allies puzzled
Iran's latest position has puzzled even representatives of nonaligned nations that accept its argument that it wants to enrich uranium not to make the fissile core of nuclear weapons but to generate atomic energy.

Reinforcing his country's refusal to scrap enrichment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told supporters Wednesday that his government "will not give up its right even an iota." Iran's state-run news agency, meanwhile reported the arrest of Hossein Mousavian , the country's former nuclear negotiator, on an unspecified security charge.

He is considered a close ally to influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, an Ahmadinejad rival.

In Vienna, a diplomat following the nuclear conference said Iran's opposition to the text reflected its concern about being pressured on its enrichment program. He said Iran's assertiveness also could suggest that it was seeing signs of compromise from the West on its refusal to freeze enrichment totally.

Indicating that Iran continued to object to the language, conference chairman Yukiya Amano told delegates that the meeting would not hold its scheduled morning session Wednesday but would reconvene only in the afternoon, to allow time for more "consultations" on the language of the text.

Iran envoy's stand
Earlier in the day, Iranian chief delegate Ali Ashgar Soltanieh had said his country was ready to drop its objections if the statement on compliance was expanded to specify that it also applied to disarmament by nations with nuclear weapons.

In earlier comments to the meeting, Soltanieh took aim at the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states, describing "their thousands of nuclear weapons ... and their possible use as the most serious threat to the very existence of humankind."

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty calls on nations to pledge not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment by five nuclear powers — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — to move toward nuclear disarmament. India and Pakistan, known nuclear weapons states, remain outside the treaty, as does Israel, which is considered to have such arms but has not acknowledged it.

Officials from some 130 of the treaty's 189 signatory countries are attending the conference, excluding North Korea.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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