Iran calls for a timetable for global nuclear disarmament

AP News
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Posted: Apr 08, 2015 8:53 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iran accused the five nuclear powers Wednesday of failing to take concrete action to eliminate their stockpiles and called for negotiations on a convention to achieve nuclear disarmament by a target date.

Iran's deputy U.N. ambassador Gholam Hossein Dehghani told the U.N. Disarmament Commission that "a comprehensive, binding, irreversible, verifiable" treaty is the most effective and practical way to eliminate nuclear weapons.

He accused the nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — of promising nuclear disarmament but making no significant progress.

Dehghani's speech came days after the announcement of a framework agreement between Iran and the five nuclear powers and Germany aimed at keeping Tehran from being able to develop a nuclear weapon. It has to be finalized by June 30.

The commission, which includes all 193 member states, is supposed to make recommendations in the field of disarmament but has failed to make substantive proposals in the past decade.

Its three-week meeting is taking place ahead of the five-year review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the world's single most important pact on nuclear arms, which begins on April 27.

The NPT is credited with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to dozens of nations since entering into force in 1970. It has done that via a grand global bargain: Nations without nuclear weapons committed not to acquire them; those with them committed to move toward their elimination; and all endorsed everyone's right to develop peaceful nuclear energy.

Dehghani said that as a non-nuclear weapon state and NPT member, Iran believes it's time to end the incremental approach toward disarmament and to start negotiations with all nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states on a convention that would set a deadline for ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

He noted that a proposal in 2013 by the Nonaligned Movement, which represents over 100 developing countries, to start negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention in the Conference on Disarmament gained wide support.

Russia said President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that Moscow is ready for a serious and substantive dialogue on nuclear disarmament.

But Olga Kuznetsova, a counselor in Russia's Foreign Ministry, warned in a speech Tuesday that the U.S. deployment of a global missile defense system could lead to the resumption of a nuclear arms race.

The only way to change the situation, she said, is for states that pursue anti-missile capabilities follow the "universal principle" of not trying to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other states.

Kuznetsova also warned that development of high-precision non-nuclear weapons threatened "strategic parity" between the two nuclear powers and could lead to "global destabilization of (the) international situation in general."

Chinese counselor Sun Lei urged countries to "abandon Cold War mentality" and said those with the largest nuclear arsenals should be the first to make "drastic and substantive" cuts in their nuclear weapons.

Ukraine's representative called for the urgent development of a binding agreement that would give assurances to countries without nuclear weapons that they will not be threatened by nuclear weapons. Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi echoed that call.

The United States said the negotiation of a treaty that would cap available fissile material "is the next logical step on the multilateral nuclear disarmament agenda." John Bravaco said the U.S. has not produced fissile material for nuclear weapons since 1989.

North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador, An Myong Hun, declared that "our nuclear forces are the life and soul of our nation" and will not be given up as long as nuclear threats remain in the world.

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Associated Press Writer Cara Anna contributed to this report from the United Nations