UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK: Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani called Thursday for Israel to put its suspected nuclear arms under international control ahead of a landmark meeting between foreign ministers from Iran and western nations.
Rouhani also said he believed a deal could be made on his country’s nuclear drive within three to six months.
The Iranian president spoke at a UN nuclear disarmament conference ahead of a meeting between Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Mohammad Zarif with US Secretary of State John Kerry and ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
The meeting was to discuss western accusations that Iran seeks a nuclear bomb capability. It will also be one of the highest level Iran-US encounters since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
At the UN conference, Rouhani said Israel should join the Non-Proliferation Treaty which aims to contain the spread of nuclear weapons. Israel has never declared a nuclear bomb but is widely suspected to have several.
Rouhani, speaking as current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the failure of attempts to organize a Middle East nuclear free zone.
“Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in this region, should join without any further delay,” Rouhani told the meeting.
He said that “all nuclear activities in the region” would then be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
Iran is in conflict with the UN’s atomic watchdog which says it has still not given definitive proof that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
“No nation should possess nuclear weapons, since there are no right hands for these wrong weapons,” Rouhani told an audience including UN leader Ban Ki-moon.