Sunday Telegraph: Iran has demanded America's expulsion from the international nuclear system. The Sunday Telegraph
Iran has demanded America's expulsion from the international nuclear system.
By Damien McElroy in Tehran
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used an international conference in Tehran to condemn the US as the "world's only atomic criminal".
"Only the US government has committed an atomic crime. The world's only atomic criminal lies and presents itself as being against nuclear weapons proliferation, while it has not taken any serious measures in this regard," said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a message read to the summit.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for the establishment of a new international weapons regime that would stand independent of Western political interference.
The Iranian government staged the meeting in response to President Barack Obama's summit on nuclear security in Washington at the start of the week.
Iran condemned the 47-nation disarmament summit in Washington on the grounds that the United States holds one of the world's largest arsenals of nuclear weapons.
Officials boasted that 55 nations had agreed to travel to Iran – more than the number that assembled in Washington – but conceded that the ash cloud over Europe had prevent many delegates from reaching its capital.
In a rambling speech that contained a threat to quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Ahmadinejad said a new "independent international group" should be set up to supervise nuclear disarmament.
"An independent international group which plans and oversees nuclear disarmament and prevents proliferation should be set up," he said.
"The right to veto, which is undemocratic, inhumane and unfair, should either be annulled, or if some insist on having this right, then some countries from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe should also have the right to veto in order to reduce its negative outcomes."
As a prelude to the move, President Ahmadinejad said America and one other country – thought to be France – that had threatened to use nuclear weapons should be suspended from the existing nuclear inspections authority, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Mr Ahmadinejad alleged that America had used "bombs made from nuclear waste" during the Iraq war and that people were still suffering as a result.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's chief nuclear official, made clear that the principal target of the gathering was America.
He said: "Iran is always determined to change confrontation to dialogue but the message from Tehran is that international community cannot tolerate the status quo and that the American threat must be condemned." America and other nations have accused Iran of working to acquire nuclear weapons by producing highly enriched uranium. The UN has levied three rounds of sanctions on Iran in an attempt to force the country to change course.
Iran has rejected the claim and said it is working on civilian nuclear power projects. The Persian Gulf nation has rejected UN demands to limit its nuclear programme.
President Obama used the Washington summit to push for support for further sanctions on Iran from China and Russia as permanent members of the UN Security Council.