The Islamic Republic of Iran demanded Monday that Israel give up all of its alleged nuclear weapons in order to comply with the ideal of a nuclear-free Middle East.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is leading Tehran’s negotiating team in defense of Iran’s own nuclear weapons program, addressed the UN conference on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In his address, Zarif demanded that “Israel, the only one in the region that has neither joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so… renounce possession of nuclear weapons,” AFP reports.
Iran, like most Islamic states, views the Jewish state as an enemy country. Israel has never officially confirmed or denied that it possesses nuclear weapons, but most agree that the country maintains a sizeable arsenal.
The month-long NPT conference seeks to ramp up pressure on the U.S. and Russia, pushing the two Security Council members to take more aggressive actions in instituting policies that encourage non-proliferation (reduction of overall nuclear weapons count), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.
A nuclear free-world is a “historic imperative of our time,” Ban said in an address delivered by his deputy. “I am deeply concerned that over the last five years this process seems to have stalled,” he added.
“There has been a dangerous return to Cold War mentalities” regarding the U.S. and Russia’s stockpiling of nuclear armaments, Ban added. The UN Secretary-General warned that the nuclear treaty “could risk fading in relevance,” should countries, specifically security council members, refuse to reduce their atomic stockpiles.