Tehran and Damascus candidates for IAEA governing council
At the opening of the agency's meeting in Vienna, ElBaradei asserts that the military goals of Tehran's atomic program cannot be ruled out. Islamic states are preparing a motion to condemn Israel's nuclear capability.

Vienna (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iran hopes to enter among the 35 members of the governing council of the IAEA, the UN agency for atomic energy. On the basis of the geographic distribution of its members, in fact, after Pakistan's three years as part of the group, another country from the Middle East-South Asia group (MESA) should be chosen. And, according to some diplomats, the candidates include Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and Kazakhstan. The voting should take place during the current assembly of the 145 member states, which opened yesterday in Vienna.

But also yesterday, at the opening of the working sessions, the director general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, asserted that the military uses of the Iranian nuclear program cannot be ruled out, and asked Tehran to "increase the transparency measures" on its program, in such a way as to "build confidence in its exclusively peaceful purpose". Last Saturday, moreover, the UN Security Council again approved the current sanctions against Iran, because the country continues to enrich nuclear material and has reiterated that it does not intend to stop.

As for Syria, an attempt is still underway by the IAEA to understand the purpose of the plant bombed by the Israelis in September of 2007: the United States and Israel claimed that it was a nuclear reactor, while the Syrians say it was a normal military installation.

At this year's assembly, furthermore, a motion should again be presented, proposed in the last two years by Islamic countries, asking all the nations of the Middle East not to develop or test nuclear weapons, and to "abstain from any action" contrary to the region's freedom from nuclear weapons. According to the Iranian news agency Fars, this motion is expected to receive support from nonaligned countries, in addition to Muslim ones.

Since Israel is currently the only - unofficial - nuclear power in the Middle East, the Israelis see the resolution as a hostile gesture. "Among sponsors of this draft resolution are states which openly do not recognize the state of Israel and even call for its annihilation" observes Shaul Chorev, director of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission. "What is the moral standing of sponsors of this agenda item who do not recognise Israel's right to exist while criticizing Israeli policies aiming at securing its very existence?" he added.