`Atomic criminal` US must be suspended from IAEA: Iran

Last Updated: Saturday, April 17, 2010 - 14:13

Tehran: Iran slammed "atomic criminal" the United States on Saturday and called for its suspension from the UN nuclear body, urging changes at the UN Security Council and in the Non-proliferation Treaty.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in an opening message to a two-day nuclear disarmament conference hosted by Tehran, said the use of nuclear weapons was "haram", meaning religiously prohibited, and branded Washington as the world`s "only atomic criminal."

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 who 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 its controversial nuclear programme despite three sets of UN sanctions, attacked the present structure of the UN Security Council, the IAEA and even the NPT.

"An independent international group which plans and oversees nuclear disarmament and prevents proliferation should be set up," he said as he opened the conference attended by several foreign ministers and UN officials.

He said those who "possess, have used or threatened to use nuclear weapons be suspended from the IAEA and its board of governors, especially the US which has used a weapon made of atomic waste in the Iraq war."

Ahmadinejad did not elaborate on that charge but his remark is expected to irk allies Russia and China. Both are nuclear states and have veto powers in the UN Security Council, but have so far hesitated to back a fourth set of sanction against Tehran.

Ahmadinejad said "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."

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have been particularly infuriated in recent days with Washington over its 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 UN Security Council regulations over their nuclear programmes.

Ahmadinejad even called for the review of the NPT of which Iran is a member and so considers its right to enrich uranium, the most controversial aspect of its nuclear programme.

"The review of the NPT must be done by independent countries who do not possess nuclear arms," he said, adding that "the presence of those possessing weapons especially US prevents the drawing up of a fair treaty."

Iranian atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Friday that the Tehran meeting will 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 ended its high-profile nuclear summit which Iran criticised on the grounds that the United States holds one of the world`s largest stocks of nuclear weapons.

At the summit, Obama pressed China and other UN Security Council skeptics to back a fourth set of sanctions against Iran for its controversial uranium enrichment programme that Western states say masks a drive for atomic arms.

Foreign ministers from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, the Central African Republic, Oman, Turkmenistan, Armenia and Swaziland are participating in the Tehran conference, while Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are represented by their deputy foreign ministers, an offical said.

A special aide of the Chinese foreign minister, representatives of the United Nations and IAEA and the chief of Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) will also be present, he said.

Bureau Report



First Published: Saturday, April 17, 2010 - 14:13

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