Ali Asghar Soltanieh

Iran has condemned the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for acting against Syria and has accused the agency of having a “legitimacy crisis.”

Yesterday, 17 of 35 members of the IAEA board of governors approved a U.S.-proposed resolution to refer Syria’s nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council. Six countries, including China and Russia, voted against the move, 11 abstained and one was absent.

The resolution raises the possibility that an unannounced nuclear reactor in the northeastern city of Deir ez-Zor is producing plutonium destined for nuclear weapons. It says Syria is probably violating its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Syria denies the charges and says the Deir ez-Zor area is a non-nuclear military zone under construction.

In 2007, Israeli fighter planes invaded Syrian airspace to bomb this region, claiming Syria was building a nuclear reactor.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said: "The world is faced with the shameful silence of the Security Council and some Western countries, especially the allies of the Zionist regime that persist in their support at any price, including their own countries’ credibility.”

In his statement today, Soltanieh added that the U.S.-sponsored resolution has “serious legal and technical problems.” He said any failure by Syria to adhere to regulations “should be ascertained by the agency inspectors and then reported to the director and the board of governors. This procedure did not happen in the case of Syria.”

Soltanieh said it is Israel that should be condemned and pursued by the IAEA for its 2007 attack.

Soltanieh went on to challenge the IAEA’s legitimacy, saying: “The important point is that we and independent states, especially the Non-Aligned Movement, are trying to change the structure of the agency and the way it interacts with countries.”

In the meantime Britain and France have proposed a UN Security Council resolution against the Syrian crackdown on protesters.

Western powers have often accused Iran of helping Syria to suppress its people’s uprising. Iran has in turn denied any involvement in Syrian affairs and has accused Western countries of conspiring against its Syrian ally.