Iran Opens Nuke Conference Amid New Sanction Threats

The following is an excerpt of an article from the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

Tehran, Saturday, April 17, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opened a two-day nuclear conference in the capital, Tehran, on Saturday with a call to suspend the United States from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog while Washington and its Western allies have been intensifying their efforts for a new wave of sanctions against the Islamic republic for its nuclear program.

The International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation comes a few days after a high-profile nuclear security summit in Washington. The conference in Tehran is seen by some as a counter effort against the U.S.-hosted summit, but Iran has repeatedly rejected this motion, saying instead the meeting aims to boost peaceful use of nuclear energy among non-nuclear states.

Foreign ministers from Oman, Syria, Lebanon, the Central African Republic, Iraq and Swaziland are attending the Tehran summit. Turkey is also among the participant states with Deputy Foreign Minister Hakkı Akıl in attendance to represent the country.

While repeating Iran's peaceful goals of its nuclear program in his opening remarks, Ahmadinejad described the disarmament of nuclear weapons across the world as a "common global concern that needs collective effort." He also drew attention to the summit's main motto: "nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for none," saying that peace and security for all nations will be reached if the disarmament goals are achieved.

According to the Iranian president, the main obstacle to global nuclear disarmament is the United States. “Washington has not only applied nuclear weapons against other nations, but has for years threatened to use weapons of mass destruction against world countries in order to gain the upper hand," he said. Such countries that continue to threaten others with the use of nuclear weapons to this day should be stripped of their membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, Ahmadinejad said. "They have no place [in the IAEA] or its board of governors."

He also criticized the United Nations and its atomic watchdog for falling short of nuclear disarmament targets and called for a new body that would oversee the global nuclear disarmament. "An independent international group that plans and oversees nuclear disarmament and prevents proliferation should be set up," he said.

An era of making nuclear threats has finished, the Iranian president said, calling on the United States to abandon "aggressive and inhumane policies" and to join other nations that want a future of peace and justice. "Tyranny has no place in the future," Ahmadenijad said.

‘Grave disaster’

In his message to the conference delivered by his senior advisor Ali Akbar Velayati, supreme leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the people of Iran were themselves victims of the use of chemical weapons and are better aware of the dangers of production and stockpiling of these weapons.

“We are prepared to make resources available to us to counter this threat. We regard the use of these weapons to be haram (religiously forbidden), and it is incumbent on all to protect humankind from this grave disaster,” his statement read.

Khamenei also accused some governments of playing a direct role in proliferating nuclear weapons by helping to arm Israel with them. “This is contrary to their undertaking under Article 1 of [Non-Proliferation Treaty] NPT and poses a serious threat to the Middle East region and beyond. The bullying and aggressor regime of the United States is leading these efforts.”

Although several countries have produced and stockpiled nuclear weapons that could lead to the committing of a major nuclear crime and have seriously threatened world peace, Khamenei said, only one government has committed the ultimate nuclear offence, the United States of America.

“From the time of the first explosion of an atomic weapon by the government of United States at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the security of the entire humankind has been threatened and there has been a global consensus on the need for complete elimination of these weapons,” he said.