x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Iran wants US removed from IAEA

President Ahmadinejad kicks off alternative atomic conference in Tehran by calling for a new UN body to oversee disarmament process.

TEHRAN // Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at Washington and other nuclear powers yesterday, calling for the US's removal from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In a speech to begin a two-day nuclear conference in Tehran, the Iranian president also said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be reviewed, called for a new UN body to oversee nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and criticised American and European support for Israel.

"The US and its allies give indefinite support to the Zionist regime which has more than 200 nuclear warheads [and] has started several wars," Mr Ahmadinejad said. The Tehran conference, named Nuclear Energy for all, Nuclear Weapons for None, was held just days after Washington's nuclear summit, to which Iran was not invited. Iranian officials have denounced the US summit as a mere show-off by a country in possession of a huge nuclear cache.

Foreign ministers from Lebanon, Syria, Turkmenistan, Iraq and Oman as well as deputy foreign ministers from Russia, the UAE and Qatar are attending the Tehran conference, according to Iran's foreign ministry. The secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and a special aide to the Chinese foreign minister were also said to be in attendance. The conference further attracted non-diplomatic and non-governmental representatives and delegations from various countries including Germany, the US, Britain, Japan and India.

Mr Ahmadinejad charged that the US, the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons in a conflict, should not be allowed membership of the IAEA board of governors. In a statement read by Ali Akbar Velayati, Ayatollah Khamenei's senior foreign policy adviser, Iran's supreme leader slammed the US for what he said was hypocrisy in fighting the spread of nuclear weapons. "If the US claim of fighting the spread of nuclear weapons is not a lie, how can the Zionist regime [Israel] manage to avoid accepting international regulations, in particular the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty], and turn occupied Palestine into an arsenal loaded with nuclear weapons?"

The statement also said that stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons amounted to war crimes. In his highly charged address, Mr Ahmadinejad repeated the accusations that the IAEA has turned into a tool for nuclear powers. He said the IAEA is serving to prevent non-nuclear members from exerting their legal nuclear rights. Mr Ahmadinejad said that nuclear powers are using the UN Security Council and IAEA to promote their own national security. He claimed non-nuclear countries see this as unfair and so are encouraged to leave the IAEA and to produce nuclear weapons to guarantee their own security.

Only "independent countries that do not possess nuclear weapons" should be allowed to participate in the treaty's revision, he said, because nuclear powers, particularly the US, would prevent a fair treaty from being drawn. "The Washington Nuclear Summit in fact repeated Bush's scenario, while the Tehran International Conference will reveal the Iranian nation's logic, ie, nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none," Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told the Friday prayer congregation in Tehran.

This month, Barack Obama, the US president, unveiled a nuclear policy that maintains the right to use nuclear weapons against rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea. Iran has filed a complaint with the UN against the US for Mr Obama's statement. The US and its western allies are presently trying to draw the final draft of a UN sanctions resolution against Iran which can be acceptable to both China and Russia. China and Russia, which have veto powers in the Security Council, have come out in favour of a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear stand-off with the West.

Panel discussions, including several on the topic of disarmament, are expected today at the summit. msinaiee@thenational.ae