Vienna: A senior Iranian official has said that Israel`s undeclared nuclear weapons pose the greatest threat to Mideast peace and accused the United States and other nuclear powers of hypocritically ignoring their disarmament commitments.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mahdi Akhondzadeh`s comments to a 189-nation non-proliferation meeting reflected Iran`s attempts to deflect international concerns that its nuclear activities could be turned to making weapons.
Usually strident Western criticism of Iran has been muted since the conference opened on Monday, possibly due to reluctance to burden the atmosphere ahead of a new meeting later this month between Iran and six powers attempting to nudge it toward concessions meant to ease such worries.
But Akhondzadeh didn`t hold back. While avoiding direct mention of the United States, his criticism of "certain nuclear-weapon states" encompassed the US, Britain and France three nations that will be sitting at the table with Iran, along with Russia, China and Germany in Baghdad on May 23.
He also described Israel as posing "the gravest threat to the stability and security" of the Middle East.
Although Israel has never confirmed it, it is widely assumed to be the only Mideast nation to possess nuclear arms.
The United States and its allies see Iran as the greatest potential nuclear threat in the Mideast because of its refusal to stop uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used to make such weapons. But Iran and the Arab states say the Jewish state`s undeclared arms program poses the most pressing danger.