Iran's Rouhani: Israel should sign non-nuclear treaty
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Iran has urged Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Speaking at the UN General Assembly for the second time this week, President Hassan Rouhani called for a world disarmament conference to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. "As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists," Rouhani said, recalling the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Calling for a "nuclear-free zone" in the Middle East, Rouhani said that Israel was the only country in the region that had not yet signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Earlier, Arab states proposed a non-binding resolution to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), calling for Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and submit its alleged nuclear facilities to IAEA monitoring. But member states of the UN nuclear agency voted down the resolution. Rouhani has called for a conference to create a zone free of nuclear weapons or any WMD weapons in the Middle East without delay. All countries, he said, should participate in the conference. He stated that any use of nuclear weapons is a violation against humanity, stating that "the world has waited too long for nuclear disarmament." "Almost four decades of international efforts to establish nuclear weapon-free zones have regrettably failed," he said. "Urgent, practical steps toward the establishment of such a zone are necessary. The international community has to redouble efforts in support of the establishment of this zone." Nuclear disarmament "should be implemented in a comprehensive and non-discriminatory manner," Rouhani declared. On the way to full elimination, "nuclear states should refrain from threats or use of such weapons against non-nuclear states under any circumstances," he said. "Threatening non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons should end. The modernization of these weapons undercuts efforts for their total abolition," Iranian President stressed. Israel is believed to possess anywhere from 75 to as many as 400 nuclear weapons, including thermonuclear weapons in the megaton range. Israel has always avoided confirming or denying whether it has nuclear weapons, but has consistently accused Iran of developing nuclear weapons and posing a threat to world security. However, Israel denounced Iran's call and accused Tehran of diverting attention from the regime's own nuclear work. "The man [Iran's leader Hasan Rouhani] is an expert with tricks," Israel's minister for strategic and intelligence affairs Yuval Steinitz told AFP. "Instead of saying that Iran will finally comply with the Security Council resolutions, it tries to shift attention to Israel." Speaking earlier to The Washington Post regarding Iran's nuclear program, Rouhani said that Tehran wants to reach a deal as soon as possible with the P5+1 group of nations that discuss Iran's nuclear program.