Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urges UN to punish US for nuclear threats

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urges UN to punish US for nuclear threats
# 03 May 2010 23:06 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to New York today to deliver a blistering attack on the US, calling for it be subjected to punitive measures for "threatening to use nuclear weapons", in an attempt to pre-empt further criticism of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, APA reports quoting website.

The Iranian president delivered his polemic on the first day of a month-long conference on nuclear weapons, which will pit the US and other established powers against states without nuclear arms.

Washington is seeking to focus the conference – convened to review the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – on strengthening measures to curb the spread of nuclear weapons technology and clamp down on states, primarily Iran, attempting to develop a bomb secretly.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, dismissed Ahmadinejad’s appearance as a distraction, saying on the eve of the conference: "We’re not going to permit Iran to try to change the story from their failure to comply."

Ahmadinejad’s speech represented a diplomatic pre-emptive strike.

Prolonging his designated five-minute slot by about half an hour, the Iranian leader repeatedly castigated the US and Israel for failing to disarm, and for using their arsenals to gain diplomatic clout.

"Regrettably, the government of the United States has not only used nuclear weapons, but also continues to threaten to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran," Ahmadinejad said, in an apparent reference to the newly-formulated American nuclear posture, which does not rule out the use of nuclear weapons against states not in compliance with their non-proliferation treaty obligations.

Ahmadinejad also had derogatory words for the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which he said had been "unsuccessful in discharging its responsibilities" because of the influence of the US over its management.

He called for the US to be removed from the agency’s board of governors and subjected to a formal UN rebuke for the use of nuclear threats. He insisted there was not a "single credible proof" that Iran was developing weapons. He said that any attack on "peaceful nuclear facilities" should be met with "a swift reaction from the United Nations and termination of all cooperation of NPT member states with the threatening aggressor state".

As the Iranian leader spoke, delegations from the US, Britain and other EU states walked out of the conference hall, but his speech was greeted by applause from many of the remaining delegates.

Ahmadinejad’s visit has prompted predictable outrage in New York, where several hotels have refused to accommodate the Iranian delegation. New York’s Democratic senator, Charles Schumer, described the Iranian leader’s presence as "a slap in the face", and urged him to "come clean on your nuclear ambitions or go home".

The visit has heightened tension over security in the city after the weekend’s failed car bomb in Times Square, with police deploying hundreds of extra officers across midtown Manhattan.

A spokesman for the non-aligned movement (NAM), a bloc of more than 100 states which carries considerable clout at the NPT conference, echoed many of Ahmadinejad’s themes, emphasising disappointment with the disarmament efforts of the established weapons powers, which the spokesman said were "below the international community’s expectations". Like Ahmadinejad, the NAM called for a strict timetable for disarmament.

The west drew comfort from remarks by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, who said the onus was on Iran to resolve doubts and concerns about its programme. The IAEA director general, Yukiya Amano, said his organisation "remains unable to confirm that all nuclear material is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation."

The last attempt to find a consensus on disarmament and non-proliferation between nuclear powers and non weapons states, at the NPT review conference in 2005, broke up in confusion, and observers say another failure would create conditions for the further spread of nuclear weaponry.

In an attempt to win the support of Egypt, a pivotal state which is chairing the NAM group, the US and Russia have drafted a proposal to revive efforts to create a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, a project Egypt has long championed.

The NAM opening statement said such a zone should be a "prominent priority" of this month’s conference, and called for the setting up of an international body responsible for its creation. NAM officials have said the US-Russian draft does not go far enough, but that they were willing to negotiate over the details. The outcome of those talks will help determine whether Iran is isolated or strengthened by the New York conference.