Iranian President Hassan Rohani addresses the UN General Assembly.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani addresses the UN General Assembly. Photo by AP
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Hours ahead of a planned meeting between Iran and major powers on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rohani told the General Assembly that use of nuclear weapons is a "crime against humanity" and called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

In a rare direct reference, Rohani said that "Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in this region, should join thereto without any further delay," according to AFP. 

Referring to the IAEA, he added that "accordingly, all nuclear activities in the region should be subject to the IAEA comprehensive safeguards." 

Rohani said 'the world has waited too long for nuclear disarmament," Al Jazeera cited him as saying, claiming that states with nuclear capabilities should take responsibility for phasing out nuclear weapons. "As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists."

"Any use of nuclear weapons is a violation of the UN charter and a crime against humanity," he added.

Rohani further called on the UN to hold a committee on nuclear disarmament within the next five years.

On Wednesday, Rohani told the Washington Post that his nation is interested in finding a solution to the nuclear standoff with the West within the next few months.

"The only way forward is for a timeline to be inserted into the negotiations that's short," said Rohani.

"The shorter it is, the more beneficial it is to everyone. If it's three months that would be Iran's choice, if it's six months that's still good. It's a question of months not years," he continued.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he looked forward to a "good meeting" with Iran and major powers, but would not address what Iran needed to do to show a genuine desire to address its nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will meet his counterparts from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States at 4 P.M. local time to discuss Western suspicions Iran may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies this.

Asked what he needed to hear from the Iranians to show they were serious about addressing those concerns, Kerry, speaking to reporters as he began a meeting with China's foreign minister, replied: "I'll let you know after they've been serious."

Asked if he thought the Iranians would be serious, he said: "We're going to have a good meeting, I'm sure."

Iran has been negotiating with major powers known as the P5+1 about its nuclear program, which Tehran says is solely for peaceful, civilian energy purposes.

The meeting would be the first between the foreign ministers of Iran and the United States - which have been estranged since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution - since a brief encounter in May 2007.