Ahmadinejad: Israel Has Nukes While Iran Banned From Nuclear Energy

Speaking at Tehran nuclear disarmament meet, Syria FM says Israel is threat to Mideast peace.

Israel's nuclear arsenal is safeguarded by the United States, while Iran is prevented from establishing its peaceful nuclear energy program, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at the opening of the First International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in Tehran, Iran's state news agency IRNA reported on Saturday.

The conference, meeting under the slogan "Nuclear Energy for All, Nuclear Weapons for No One," was kicked off early Saturday, and included 10 foreign ministers, 14 deputy foreign ministers as well as nuclear experts from 60 countries.

China is to be represented at the conference by a low-ranking Foreign Ministry official and Russia by a deputy minister.

The conference is focused on disarmament, but analysts said a main aim would be another effort by Iran to persuade the international community that its nuclear projects are solely for peaceful and civilian purposes.

Referring to Israel's alleged nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said that "the Zionist regime which has over 200 nuclear warheads and has waged several wars in the region is fully supported by Washington and its allies."

"This is while other states are prevented from making peaceful use of nuclear energy," the Iranian president added.

Addressing the conference's aims, Ahmadinejad said that "wars, aggressions, occupation, threats, nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and expansionist policies of certain countries have made the prospect of regional and international security as unclear and ambiguous.

The Iranian president also criticized the performance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying that the UN nuclear watchdog has been turned to a tool for exerting pressure on those countries which have no nuclear weapons.

"Expecting those countries which have the veto right and are big sellers of weapons in the world to establish security and to disarm other states is illogical," Ahmadinejad said according to IRNA, suggesting the formation of a new group that would supervise global nuclear disarmament.

"[That] group should suspend membership of those countries possessing, using and threatening use of nuclear weapons at the IAEA and its Board of Governors," the Iranian President said.

Also Saturday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Islam forbade the use of nuclear weapons, saying that while the United States urged the reduction of the worldwide nuclear arsenal, it had taken no real steps toward achieving that aim.

In a statement read by aides at the opening of the nuclear disarmament conference headed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Khamenei said that United States was still the only nation to commit what he called "atomic crimes."

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeid Jalili, also criticized the United States for its double-standard approach to nuclear disarmament.

"The U.S. is itself guilty of having used atomic weapons in Japan and can, therefore, not be a supervisor of countries using peaceful nuclear technology," said Jalili, who is also secretary of Iran's National Security Council. "The world should not allow nuclear criminals to have a supervising role."

Jalili blamed the U.S. and its allies for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and insisted that all nuclear projects by Iran were in line with the treaty and IAEA regulations.

On Friday, Iranian IRNA news agency quoted Lebanon's Foreign Minister Ali Shami International sa sayig that the pressure exerted by the international community on Iran's "peaceful nuclear program" could have "drastic impacts on the Middle East peace."

According to the IRNA report, Shami added that "contrary to Israel which has many nuclear arsenals, Iran seeks a peaceful nuclear program."

Syria FM: Israel's nukes are Mideast's gravest threat

Israel's nuclear warheads are the Middle East's biggest threat, IRNA quoted Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem as saying at the onset the nuclear disarmament conference in Tehran on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters, Al-Muallem said that Israel was the biggest nuclear threat in the Middle East, alleging that the "Zionist regime" had "been stockpiling nuclear warheads."

The Syria FM called the Terhan conference a "very good opportunity for countries to try to bring to life the mottos on the disarmament issue," adding he hoped "the meeting will create a firm will in the world on nuclear disarmament."

Also commenting on the subject of Israel's supposed nuclear program Saturday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari called for inspecting Israeli nuclear installations by international bodies.

"Iraq is the victim of the past policies and ignoring international commitments," Zebari told IRNA, adding that "Baghdad condemns making use of weapons of mass destruction and believes in combating nuclear weapons."

The Iraqi FM reiterated that the "Iraqi government is interested in a Mideast free from nuclear weapons and calls for annihilation of weapons of mass destruction."

On Friday, IRNA quoted Lebanon's Foreign Minister Ali Shami International as saying that the pressure exerted by the international community on Iran's "peaceful nuclear program" could have "drastic impacts on the Middle East peace."

According to the IRNA report, Shami added that "contrary to Israel which has many nuclear arsenals, Iran seeks a peaceful nuclear program."

The Lebanon FM urged the international community to force the United Nations Security Council to pressure Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, adding that Lebanon accepted "Tehran's invitation and will attend the highly important conference which will focus on nuclear disarmament worldwide."