Iran, whose nuclear facilities are under threat of possible Israeli military strikes, has enlisted the support of more than 100 nonaligned nations in its push for a ban on such attacks, according to documents shared with The Associated Press.
The 118-nation Nonaligned Movement backs Tehran in a letter submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency endorsing Iran's plan to submit a resolution on the topic when IAEA nations meet next month.
While Iran says the language of any resolution will be kept general, the move is clearly directed against Israel and to a lesser extent the US. Both nations - Israel more overtly - have not ruled out an attack as a last resort if the international community fails to persuade Tehran to freeze its nuclear activities.
Iran has defied three sets of UN Security Council sanctions aimed at pressuring it to mothball its uranium enrichment. It also is resisting an IAEA probe into reports it had drafted plans and conducted experiments for a nuclear weapons program.
Tehran insists its enrichment program is geared only toward generating fuel to produce nuclear energy, not nuclear arms.
The IAEA's 150-nation general conference convenes Sept. 14. The annual conference regularly pits Israel backed by the US and its other Western nations, against Islamic states and other nonaligned countries seeking to censure Israel and its nuclear secrecy.
Israel is believed to possess nuclear arms but refuses to confirm or deny its status. Again this year, its rivals are pushing for conference resolutions demanding that Israel open up its facilities to IAEA perusal.
The Iranian proposal was revealed to the AP last week. That and the nonaligned support, outlined in a letter shared with the AP on Wednesday, aims to give Islamic nations additional leverage at the conference.
The IAEA conference already passed a resolution in September 1990. But Iran argues a new resolution is called for because the use of nuclear power - and the corresponding international damage that any attacks would cause - have greatly increased since then.
Israeli warplanes have attacked nuclear sites before, and Iran appeared to be trying to ramp up diplomatic pressure on the Jewish state in hopes of reducing the chances of an attack.
Still, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA said Israel was not the main concern. "We ignore the Israelis," Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the AP. "Nobody dares to threaten or attack Iran."