Iran demands world powers force Israel to abandon alleged nuclear weapons


The NPT conference. (AP/Richard Drew)

Iran demands that Israel abandon its stockpile of nuclear arms and that the world force it to do so. Jerusalem has never confirmed that it possesses weapons of mass destruction.

By: AP and Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

Speaking on behalf of developing countries Monday at a UN Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference, which is tasked with setting a path toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif repeated the call for a nuclear-free Middle East, adding that Israel must be forced to abandon its alleged stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Zarif repeated the Non-Aligned Movement’s (NAM) call for Israel to give up its nuclear weapons – which Jerusalem never acknowledged having in its possession.  Zarif called upon “all parties concerned” to take “urgent and practical steps” for the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free Middle East and demanded that “Israel, the only one in the region that has neither joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so, renounce possession of nuclear weapons, accede to the NPT without precondition and further delay, place promptly all its nuclear facilities under IAEA full-scope safeguards and conduct its nuclear related activities in conformity with the non-proliferation regime.”

Through Zarif, the NAM expressed great concern over the “acquisition of nuclear capability by Israel,” which  poses “a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other states.” The statement condemned Israel for alleged continued development of a nuclear program.

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Israel has refrained from attending previous gatherings of NPT signatories since 1995 in protest of resolutions it regarded as biased against the Jewish state but this year surprised attendees with a first-time appearance. Since Israel is not a party to the treaty, however, it is participating as an observer only.

When asked whether he would be meeting with Israel, Yukiya Amano, head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said, “I don’t know yet.”

In his speech, Amano “warned that his agency “is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran” and therefore must “conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinians marked their first conference as a state party to the treaty, even though they have no nuclear capabilities.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called the proposal for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East an “ambitious goal and fraught with challenges” but worth pursuing. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, “Israel has shown readiness for constructive steps to be taken.”