President Ahmadinejad lashes out at nuclear powers during UN summit
As nearly 200 states met to review the UN nuclear pact, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the summit that the non-proliferation treaty failed to disarm nuclear states and accused the US of double standards.
The Iranian president has also said there's not a shred of credible evidence his country is developing nuclear weapons.
At the opening speech, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon directly called on the Iranian government to clarify international concerns about its nuclear activities and comply with Security Council resolutions.
Responding to the secretary general, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran is ready to exchange its low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel produced abroad.
"I want to reply to UN secretary general's call for Iran to agree on the exchange of uranium for nuclear fuel,” he said. “Iran was always ready for this, and we have made our proposal concerning the issue. Now, the ball is on the side of other states.”
During Ahmadinejad’s speech, representatives of the world’s three major nuclear states and the members of the Security Council – which are particularly engaged in talks over Iran’s nuclear issue – left the conference hall. A professor of American studies at the University of Tehran, Dr. Mohammad Marandi, says the behavior of these powers at the UN session shows the scale of prejudice they have toward Iran.
“Whoever actually watched the speech would have noticed that the Americans, the British and the French behaved childishly, and the fact that they are not willing to listen to the Iranian president really reflects the whole situation – these countries are completely biased, they are not willing to listen to reasons, they have an irrational hostility toward the Islamic Republic and in reality toward the people of Iran through the actions they have taken over the past years.”
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton delivered her speech later in the day.
“This morning Iran's president offered the same tired faults and sometimes wild accusations against the United States and other parties at this conference. But that's not surprising. As you all heard this morning Iran will do whatever it can to divert attention from its own record into attempt to evade accountability,” US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said.
The verbal volley between foes marked day one of the 2010 UN Review Conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The NPT was signed 40 years ago and currently unites 189 states. The document is regarded as the world's single most important pact on nuclear arms. It requires that non-nuclear signatory nations promise not to develop nuclear weapons and in return they are allowed to have peaceful nuclear programs. Those who have atomic weapons vow to disarm.
Five parties to the treaty are publicly recognized as nuclear states: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea are not treaty members.
Coinciding with the event was an announcement made by Russia and the US – the countries have drafted an initiative to ban nukes and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
“We also propose a special envoy be appointed, who could hold consultations with all Middle East countries. Also we propose calling a special conference in order to discuss setting up a zone that will be free of weapons of mass destruction,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday, speaking to journalists in Moscow.
Israel, which pursues a policy of opacity regarding its nuclear weapons program, is also included in the proposed zone.
“That definitely means that Israel should get rid of its nuclear arsenal and should join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state. This is not something that Russia and the US invented. This is clear requirements made by NPT members,” Vladimir Orlov from Russian Delegation to NPT Conference said.
Iran says the promise should spread beyond selected borders.
“The nuclear bomb is a fire against humanity rather than a weapon for defense. The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride. Its possession is disgusting and shameful,” President Ahmadinejad said.
Diplomats will continue discussing NPT goals throughout the month of May. Better ways of preventing the spread of nukes, ways of working towards reducing them. Consensus among all the nations, on a final document is expected in four weeks. On day one, obvious positions remain divided.