UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -- Iran has sharply criticized the United States, Britain, and France for "continuous nuclear cooperation" with Israel, saying support for the Jewish state was a source of concern for the entire Middle East.
Speaking at the start of a two-week meeting of the 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Hosseini also said the endorsement of a U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal by the world's top producers of atomic technology violated the pact.
"Continuous nuclear cooperation of the United States, U.K., and France with the Zionist regime is a total disregard with the obligations under the treaty...and a source of real concern for the international community, especially the parties to the treaty in the Middle East," Hosseini said.
Israel, India, and Pakistan have never signed the treaty. Israel neither confirms nor denies the existence of what arms control experts believe to be its sizable nuclear arsenal, while India and Pakistan are confirmed nuclear powers.
Without naming India, Hosseini lashed out at the "horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons through providing nuclear equipment, material, and technology to nonparties of the NPT in violation" of its articles.
He said the India deal "severely damaged the NPT," and that the failure of the big nuclear powers to disarm has "accelerated the nuclear arms race."
He repeated Tehran's dismissal of Western suspicions about Iran's nuclear program, saying it was entirely peaceful.
Western diplomats said Iran's aggressive speech was part of a stepped-up effort to draw attention away from its nuclear program by pointing its finger at the United States and its allies.
U.S.-India Deal Criticized
Hosseini voiced support for a speech given earlier by Cuba's UN Ambassador Abelardo Moreno on behalf of nonaligned developing countries, an alliance that includes Iran.
Moreno, also without naming India, criticized the endorsement of the U.S.-India nuclear deal by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, an informal club of the world's top producers of nuclear-related technology.
The group agreed in September to lift a ban on nuclear trade with India, imposed after its first nuclear test in 1974 and for its refusal to join the nonproliferation treaty.
Moreno said there should be a total ban on nuclear trade with any state outside the treaty, while developing nations should have greater access to atomic technology.
Hosseini spoke of a "discriminatory and double-standard approach" that developing states face in acquiring technology.
Delegates at the meeting hope to agree on an agenda and action plan for a possible overhaul of the treaty at a major conference next year. Recent meetings have struggled to bridge the divide between developing and rich nations.
Egyptian envoy Maged Abdelaziz told delegates that Israel's nuclear program and refusal to clearly accept the creation of a separate Palestinian state constitute "the main obstacle to achieving regional peace and security" in the Middle East.
Since it is not a party to the treaty, Israel did not speak.
Moreno, however, praised as "a welcome gesture" recent statements by the United States and Russia that they are ready to discuss reducing their nuclear arsenals.
Hosseini also referred to that, saying previous U.S. pledges had been ignored. "It is essential that the words be translated into actions and implementation in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner," he said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Russian-U.S. dialogue and urged Iran and North Korea to return to stalled talks on their respective nuclear programs. North Korea withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty 2003 and tested a nuclear device in 2006.
Under the treaty, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China were allowed to keep nuclear weapons though they were obliged to engage in negotiations aimed at scrapping them. Developing states say they have ignored their duty to disarm.