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Rohani Tells UN No Nation Should Have Nuclear Weapons, Challenges Israel On NPT


Iranian President Hassan Rohani departs after addressing the UN General Assembly in New York on September 24.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has told a UN meeting on nuclear disarmament that no country should have nuclear weapons and called on Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Rohani, whose country is suspected by the West of seeking the capability to produce atomic bombs, urged Israel, which has never officially acknowledged its presumed possession of nuclear weapons, to put its nuclear arms under international control.

"No nation should possess nuclear weapons, since there are no right hands for these wrong weapons," Rohani told the UN General Assembly meeting on nuclear disarmament on September 26. "Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in this region, should join thereto without any further delay."

Iran denies it is seeking an atomic bomb under cover of its nuclear program, but the UN's atomic watchdog has criticized Tehran for a lack of disclosure and suggested that Iran's nuclear program at some point had a military component.

Rohani's remarks came ahead of a high-level meeting on Tehran's nuclear program at United Nations headquarters in New York later on September 26.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as diplomats from Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- the so-called P5+1 group of world powers.

It will be one of the highest-level meetings between the United States and Iran since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, after which formal diplomatic ties were severed.

Rohani also has said he believes a deal could be made on his country's nuclear drive within three to six months.

He told the "Washington Post" he has the full backing of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the ultimate word on political and religious affairs under Iran's clerically dominated system, to broker a deal.

The meeting between the P5+1 group of world powers and Iran will be hosted by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Kerry said he looks forward to a "good meeting" but did not elaborate.

Zarif said on his Twitter account, "We have a historic opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue" if world powers adjust to the "new Iranian approach."

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, BBC, and RFE/RL
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