Iran’s nuclear disarmament summit opened Saturday, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for a global body to oversee nuclear disarmament. US President Barack Obama recently hosted a 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit, which did not include Iran.
AFP - Iran slammed the United States as an "atomic criminal" on Saturday and called for its suspension from the UN nuclear watchdog, while urging changes to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
At the start of a two-day nuclear disarmament conference in Tehran, the Islamic republic's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said any use of nuclear weaponry was "haram," meaning banned under Islam.
He branded the United States an "atomic criminal" in his opening address at the conference, Tehran's answer to a nuclear summit held in Washington earlier this week.
Hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went a step further and called for Washington's suspension from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) along with all other nations which possess nuclear arms.
"Only the US government has committed an atomic crime," said a message read out from the all-powerful Khamenei who formulates Tehran's foreign policy, including its nuclear strategy.
"The world's only atomic criminal lies and presents itself as being against nuclear weapons proliferation, while it has not taken any serious measures in this regard," he said.
Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency Iran has aggressively pushed ahead with a controversial nuclear programme despite three sets of UN sanctions, attacked the present structure of the UN Security Council, the IAEA and the NPT.
"An independent international group which plans and oversees nuclear disarmament and prevents proliferation should be set up," he said, opening the conference attended by several foreign ministers and UN officials.
He said those countries which "possess, have used or threatened to use nuclear weapons should be suspended from the IAEA and its board of governors, especially the US which used a weapon made of atomic waste in the Iraq war."
Ahmadinejad's remark was expected to irk allies Russia and China, two nuclear states with veto powers in the Security Council that have so far hesitated to back a fourth set of sanction against Tehran.
"The right to veto, which is undemocratic, inhumane and unfair, should either be annulled, or if some insist on having this right, then some countries from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe should also have the right to veto in order to reduce its negative outcomes," he said.
Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have been angered by Washington's new nuclear policy unveiled last week.
The policy limits the countries against which Washington might use its nuclear arsenal but singles out Iran and North Korea as exceptions for flouting Security Council resolutions over their nuclear programmes.
Fraser Cameron, analyst from think-tank EU-Russia Centre, said the Iranian nuclear issue has been aggravated by "misunderstandings from both sides" -- the West and Iran.
"This is a misunderstanding from both sides," said Fraser, who was among those attending the Tehran conference.
Ahmadinejad also called for a review of the NPT, of which Iran is a signatory and as such considers it has the right to enrich uranium, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.
"The review of the NPT must be done by independent countries which do not possess nuclear arms," he said. "The presence of those possessing weapons, especially the US, prevents the drawing up of a fair treaty."
Armenia, the Central African Republic, China, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Swaziland, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, the UN, IAEA and Organisation of the Islamic Conference sent delegates to the Tehran forum.
Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Friday that the Tehran meeting would serve as preparation for the next NPT review in New York early next month, which Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki plans to attend.
The Tehran conference comes just days after Washington held a high-profile nuclear summit which Iran criticised on the grounds that the United States possesses one of the world's largest nuclear stocks.
At the summit, Obama pressed China and other Security Council sceptics to back another set of sanctions against Iran for its controversial uranium enrichment work which Western states allege masks a drive for atomic arms.
Date created : 2010-04-17