Iran dares Trump, skips UN meet on nu­clear en­ergy

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

Iran’s nu­clear deal with world pow­ers may hang in the bal­ance, but you wouldn’t know it at the United Na­tions con­fer­ence on atomic en­ergy held on Mon­day in the UAE.

Iran de­cided to skip the Abu Dhabi con­fer­ence, leav­ing its seats empty as Yukiya Amano, the head of the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency, avoided speak­ing about the nu­clear deal at all in his ad­dress at the venue.

Ira­nian of­fi­cials did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment to dis­cuss their de­ci­sion to avoid the con­fer­ence.

“This con­fer­ence is open to all the coun­tries and we wel­come the par­tic­i­pa­tion of all the coun­tries,” Amano said. “But of course it de­pends on each coun­try whether to at­tend or not. I do not com­ment on Iran’s par­tic­i­pa­tion. It is (up to) Iran to de­cide.” Amano’s de­ci­sion to avoid men­tion­ing Iran ear­lier may have been tac­ti­cal. He vis­ited Tehran just the day be­fore and told jour­nal­ists that Iran still hon­oured the 2015 ac­cord.

Both the UAE and neigh­bor­ing Saudi Ara­bia re­main highly sus­pi­cious of the nu­clear deal, which saw econom- ic sanc­tions on Iran lifted in ex­change for it lim­it­ing its en­rich­ment of ura­nium.

The two Gulf Arab coun­tries say that new money flow­ing into Iran has aided its abil­ity to back Shi­ite mili­tias in Iraq and sup­port embattled Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad. Also shar­ing that sus­pi­cion is Is­rael, which sent a del­e­ga­tion to the nu­clear con­fer­ence. The UAE, like many Arab coun­tries, does not have diplo­matic ties with Is­rael and re­mains op­posed to its oc­cu­pa­tion of lands Pales­tini­ans want for a fu­ture state.

Con­fer­ence or­gan­is­ers asked jour­nal­ists not to film the Is­raeli del­e­ga­tion. The Iran nu­clear deal, struck in 2015, now faces one of its big­gest threats. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has de­clined to re­cer­tify the deal.

— AP

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