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Iran urges non-aligned nations' support in atomic row

Iran has called on members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to reject international sanctions imposed on Tehran because of its nuclear program. The remarks come ahead of a planned NAM summit later this week.

In a speech opening days of preparatory meetings for the scheduled NAM summit in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi urged members of the grouping to take action against the sanctions.

"NAM should seriously confront unilateral sanctions of certain nations against some members of the NAM," Salehi said.

He also said that Iran took "this opportunity to thank the NAM for its support" in backing Tehran's "legitimate rights" to maintain nuclear activities.

Salehi again claimed, as Tehran has always done, that Iran's nuclear program was solely for civilian purposes.

"We insist on the peaceful nature of our nuclear programs and do not want anything more than our legitimate rights in this regard, and hence do not accept any double standards by the International Atomic Energy Agency and related UN agencies," Salehi said.

Many Western governments fear that Iran's nuclear activities are aimed at acquiring a nuclear arsenal.

A suspected nuclear enrichment facility under construction inside a mountain located north of Qom, Iran.

Iran remains secretive about activities at its enrichment plants

Iran is subject to five United Nations resolutions, four of them entailing sanctions, over its refusal to halt nuclear enrichment activity. The United States and European Union have also imposed sanctions aimed at crippling Iran's oil exports.

Old foes

Salehi also used his speech to lash out at Israel, accusing it of causing a "Palestinian tragedy" and of instigating global terrorism.

"Middle East peace cannot be secured by blind and discriminatory support for Israel's state terrorism and its policies of occupation, aggression, threats, torture and devastation."

Iranian leaders often issue comments condemning Israel for its policies towards the Palestinian people.

Heads of state and government from 36 of NAM's 120 member states are expected to meet at a summit on Friday. The grouping, which consists mostly of developing nations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, was formed at the height of the Cold War.

At the time, its member states aimed to maintain their independence from both Washington and Moscow. Now, however, it brings together a large range of different political goals and interests, making concerted action difficult.

Friday's summit is also likely to see Iran present a peace plan for Syria.

Iranis taking over the rotating three-year presidency of NAM from Egypt.

tj/slk (AFP, dpa)