Latest update: 04/05/2010
Clinton warns against Iran's nuclear ambitions
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed Iran Monday, saying the country's nuclear ambitions put the world at risk. Clinton spoke at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference just hours after Iran’s president caused a walkout.
By NEWS WIRES (text)
REUTERS - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said that Iran's nuclear ambitions put the world at risk and called on global nations to rally around U.S. efforts to hold Tehran to account.
"Iran is the only country represented in this hall that has been found by the IAEA board of governors to be currently in non-compliance with its nuclear safeguard obligations," Clinton said in a speech to a Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference at the United Nations.
"It has defied the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy, and that is why it is facing increasing isolation and pressure from the international community," she said.
Clinton spoke to the meeting of the 189 signatories of the 1970 NPT just hours after Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who used his speech to slam the United States for what he said were threats to use nuclear weapons on his country.
Clinton dismissed Ahmadinejad's comments as the "same tired, false and sometimes wild accusations" that the world had heard before, and urged nations to focus on efforts to bring Iran to heel.
"Iran will not succeed in its efforts to divert and divide. The United States and the great majority of the nations represented here come to this conference with a much larger agenda," Clinton said.
"Now is the time to build consensus, not to block it."
Clinton detailed what she described as the strong U.S. record on nuclear non-proliferation and weapons control, including the recently concluded U.S.-Russia deal to cap strategic nuclear weapons and the new U.S. nuclear policy which sets new limits when and where atomic weapons might be used.
She said Washington would contribute $50 million to a drive to raise $100 million to support the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy in developing countries.
She also said the United States would ratify nuclear weapons-free zones in Africa and the South Pacific and also support "practical measures" to establish the Middle East as a region free of weapons of mass destruction -- which could pique U.S. ally Israel, presumed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal.
Clinton later told reporters that conditions for such a zone in the Middle East did not yet exist.
Clinton said the world stood at a crossroads, facing a future either of sharply reduced nuclear risk or of a spread of nuclear-armed states and groups, and that issues such as Iran's nuclear program could determine which path is taken.
"Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something and the world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons," Clinton said. "It is time for a strong international response."