Iran vows to pursue nuke plans, slams U.S., Israel
Tehran accuses the United States and Israel of threatening international peace with their own atomic arsenals.
UNITED NATIONS - Iran vowed on Tuesday to press ahead with nuclear activities that could be used to make weapons and accused the United States and Israel of threatening international peace with their own atomic arsenals.
"Iran is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology including (uranium) enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told a conference to review the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
He said it was wrong to limit "access to peaceful nuclear technology to an exclusive club of technologically advanced states under the pretext of nonproliferation."
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters Iran could not have access to dangerous nuclear technology and reiterated that the issue may be referred to the UN Security Council, which could impose economic sanctions.
"They can't have access to certain kinds of technology that can, that have ... proliferation risk," Rice said.
Iran attacked the United States, which accuses Tehran of using its nuclear program as a front for developing arms, for not scrapping its own arsenal as required by the NPT.
"Unilateral nuclear disarmament measures should be pursued vigorously," Kharrazi said. It was also "abhorrent that ... the dangerous doctrine of the use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states and threats was officially proclaimed by the United States and NATO."
Without naming it, nuclear power China's chief delegate, Zhang Yan, also criticized the United States for adding "destabilizing factors" to the global security situation.
He said those included "sticking to the Cold War mentality, pursuing unilateralism, advocating pre-emptive strategy, listing other countries as targets of nuclear strike and lowering the threshold of using nuclear weapons, research and developing new types of nuclear weapons for specific purposes."
Rising tensions about Iran as well as North Korea, which has said it has nuclear arms, dominated the opening of a monthlong UN-sponsored conference on the NPT, the cornerstone of atomic disarmament pacts.
The United States on Monday pressed the 188 attending nations to ensure Tehran and Pyongyang were denied peaceful nuclear energy benefits because they had violated the treaty.
Iran and Egypt criticize Israel
Kharrazi also had a few words to say about Iran's other enemy, Israel, whose assumed nuclear arsenal he said "has endangered regional and global peace and security."
"Israel has continuously rejected the calls by the international community ... to accede to the NPT," he said.
Egypt's ambassador, Ahmed Fathalla, told the conference there could be no credible assessment of the pact's impact in the Middle East "without real progress toward the accession of Israel as a nonnuclear weapon state to the NPT."
Israel, which neither admits nor denies having the bomb, is estimated to have about 200 warheads.
In a comment clearly aimed at the European Union's three biggest powers - France, Britain and Germany - Kharrazi said "no one should be under the illusion" that abolishing its nuclear fuel enrichment program would provide what he called an objective guarantee Tehran would not pursue the bomb.
Instead, intrusive inspections and careful monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, could provide the international community with assurances Iran's program is entirely peaceful, he said.
The EU trio wants Iran to permanently abandon enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for use in power plants or weapons, in exchange for economic and political incentives. Four months of talks have not persuaded Iran to yield.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Iran did not need an enrichment program and called on Tehran to eliminate the program.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said Moscow, which has agreed to supply Iran with enriched uranium fuel for its Bushehr nuclear power plant, also sees no reason for Iran or any other country to develop new enrichment facilities.
In a November deal with the EU trio, Iran agreed to freeze all atomic fuel activities while both sides tried to negotiate a long-term solution on Iran's atomic ambitions.