Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Iran calls on Israel to join nuclear non-proliferation treaty

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, speaking as current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the failure of attempts to organise a Middle East nuclear free zone.

UNITED NATIONS // Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani on Thursday called on Israel to admit it has a nuclear bomb

Speaking ahead of a meeting between Iranian and western foreign ministers, Mr Rouhani also said he believed a deal could be struck with the international community on his own country’s controversial nuclear drive within three to six months.

The Iranian president spoke at a UN nuclear disarmament conference just before Iran’s foreign minister Javad Mohammad Zarif was to hold talks with US secretary of state John Kerry and ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The meeting was called to discuss western allegations that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability and was to be one of the highest level Iran-US encounters since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Mr Rouhani said Iran’s arch-foe Israel should join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to contain the spread of nuclear weapons. Israel has never declared a nuclear arsenal, but is widely assumed to have several bombs.

Iran’s president, speaking as current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the failure of attempts to organise a Middle East nuclear free zone.

“Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in this region, should join thereto without any further delay,” Mr Rouhani told the meeting.

He said “all nuclear activities in the region” would then be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Iran is in dispute with the UN’s atomic watchdog, which says it has still not given definitive proof that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

Iran denies it seeks a bomb.

The UN Security Council members and Germany, dubbed the P5+1, made a new offer to Iran earlier this year, before Mr Rouhani’s election, on how to overcome a current stalemate in the nuclear dossier.

It is believed to have offered an easing of the international sanctions which have crippled the Iranian economy, in return for a slow down in Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment programme.

Western officials say they are still waiting for a response.

“No nation should possess nuclear weapons, since there are no right hands for these wrong weapons,” insisted Mr Rouhani.

“As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of their use, threat of use and proliferation persist. The only absolute guarantee is their total elimination,” he said.

Mr Rouhani told the Washington Post he wants a quick deal on the nuclear standoff adding he has the full backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that’s short — and wrap it up,” said Mr Rouhani.

“If it’s three months, that would be Iran’s choice, if it’s six months, that’s still good. It’s a question of months not years.”

Mr Zarif will be the first Iranian minister to sit down with western counterparts to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme.

While US officials say no bilateral talks are planned between Mr Kerry and Mr Zarif, an unofficial encounter is possible.

“We’re going to have a good meeting I’m sure,” Mr Kerry said earlier on Thursday.

The United States sought a meeting between President Barack Obama and Mr Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN assembly. But Iran said it was too difficult.

Iran has, however, sharply criticised the UN nuclear watchdog over “baseless allegations” about its atomic activity, a document showed.

The uncompromising language in the paper, and the fact that Iran asked the UN agency to make it public, may disappoint those hoping for a softening of Tehran’s nuclear stance under Mr Rouhani.

Iran’s new government said on Wednesday it wanted to “jump-start” separate talks with six world powers on a diplomatic solution to a decade-long dispute over its uranium enrichment programme and hoped for a deal in three to six months.

But in a 20-page “explanatory note” posted on the website of the IAEA, Iran’s mission to the watchdog detailed many objections to its latest report on Tehran’s nuclear programme, issued last month.

Agence France-Presse with additional reporting by Reuters

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National