Rouhani: Israel must declare nuclear bomb

2013-09-26 22:22
Hasan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. (File, AP)

Hasan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. (File, AP)

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New York - Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani on Thursday called on Israel to admit it has a nuclear bomb ahead of a landmark meeting between Iranian and western foreign ministers.

Rouhani also said he believed a deal could be struck with the international community on his own country's controversial nuclear drive within three to six months.

The Iranian president spoke at a UN nuclear disarmament conference just before Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Mohammad Zarif was to hold landmark talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry and ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

The meeting was called to discuss western allegations that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability and was to be one of the highest level Iran-US encounters since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Rouhani said Iran's arch-foe Israel should join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to contain the spread of nuclear weapons.

Israel has never declared a nuclear arsenal, but is widely assumed to have several bombs.

Rouhani, speaking as current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the failure of attempts to organise a Middle East nuclear free zone.

"Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in this region, should join thereto without any further delay," Rouhani told the meeting.

He said "all nuclear activities in the region" would then be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

Iran is in dispute with the UN's atomic watchdog, which says it has still not given definitive proof that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran denies it seeks a bomb.

Kerry met early on Thursday with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and the two men agreed "that Iran should cooperate and should respond positively to the offer on the table", a US official told reporters.

The group, dubbed the P5+1, made a new offer to Iran earlier this year, before Rouhani's election, on how to overcome a current stalemate in the nuclear dossier.

It is believed to have offered an easing of the international sanctions which have crippled the Iranian economy, in return for a slow down in Iran's controversial uranium enrichment programme.

Western officials say they are still waiting for a response.

"No nation should possess nuclear weapons, since there are no right hands for these wrong weapons," insisted Rouhani, who also met Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.

"As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of their use, threat of use and proliferation persist. The only absolute guarantee is their total elimination," he said.

Read more on:    hassan rouhani  |  iran  |  israel  |  iran nuclear programme

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