Saturday, April 17, 2010

Iran wants 'atomic criminal' US suspended from IAEA

Updated on : Saturday, April 17, 2010

TEHRAN: Top Iranian officials slammed "atomic criminal" the United States on Saturday and called for its suspension from the UN atomic watchdog as Tehran hosted a two-day nuclear disarmament conference.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to the conference, said the use of nuclear weapons was "haram", meaning religiously prohibited, and branded Washington as the world's "only atomic criminal."

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. 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," Khamenei said in his message which was read out at the start of the meeting.

Ahmadinejad, under whose presidency Iran has pushed ahead with its controversial nuclear programme, called for a global supervision of nuclear disarmament.

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

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.

Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have been infuriated in recent days with Washington over its new nuclear policy, which limits the countries against which it might use its nuclear arsenal, but singles out Iran and North Korea as exceptions.

Ahmadinejad even called for the review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which Iran is a member and so considers its right to enrich uranium despite three sets of UN sanctions.

"The review of the NPT must be done by independent countries who do not possess nuclear arms," he said.

The Tehran conference, which comes just days after Washington held its high-profile nuclear summit, aims to "discuss nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, which are the bases of the Non-Proliferation Treaty," Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on Friday.

Salehi has also said in recent days that the conference would serve as preparation for the next NPT review meeting in New York early next month, which Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki plans to attend.

Iran criticised the 47-nation nuclear disarmament summit in Washington hosted by US President Barack Obama, 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, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Mehmanparast said a special aide of the Chinese foreign minister, representatives of the United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the chief of Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) will also be present.

"Due to the eruption of the volcano (in Iceland), some foreign ministers from South America and Africa who had connecting flights may come later or tomorrow. Among them are also some experts of weapons of mass destructions and nuclear weapons," he added.

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