Iran says Middle East must be free from nuclear weapons



Bali Island, Indonesia – Nuclear weapons represent the greatest threat to the humankind and the Middle East must be free of them, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Wednesday.

Efforts to make a nuclear-free Middle East have been hampered by Israel’s refusal to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Salehi said.

‘The maintenance of strategic and tactical nuclear forces and their continued modernization as well as new military doctrines setting rationales for their possible use … represent the greatest threat to humankind,’ he said at a Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Bali.

Salehi said Israel must be forced ‘to satisfy the requirement for achieving’ a nuclear-free Middle East.

‘Due to the persistent refusal of the Israeli regime to join the NPT, the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, proposed by Iran in 1974, is yet to be implemented,’ he said.

Israel is believed to be the only nuclear power in the Middle East, although the Jewish state maintains a policy of ambiguity on whether it has nuclear weapons.

The US and other Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for generating electricity.

In an apparent reference to the United States, Salehi criticised what he called ‘interventionist and arrogant policies responsible for cruel wars and occupation of countries in the recent years.’

‘International law has been used to distort facts and misinform world public opinion to preserve illegitimate interests,’ he said.

He said the ‘inaction’ of the UN Security Council had emboldened Israel in ‘pursuing its crimes’ against the Palestinians.

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