07/11/2017, 09.40

Tehran throws weight behind UN treaty against nuclear weapons

Iranian representative at the IAEA, Reza Najafi, , affirms the Islamic Republic's commitment on atomic power. The goal is a "non-nuclear" region, which is a "threat" to stability. Over the weekend, 122 nations ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear powers - including the US, Russia and Israel - boycott the vote.

Tehran (AsiaNews) - Tehran is battling for a ban on nuclear arms and is throwing all of its weight behind a UN treaty intending to prohibit its use. Reza Najafi, an Iranian representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that the Islamic Republic "strongly supports the purpose underlying the Treaty, which prohibits both the possession and use of atomic weapons." The diplomat's note came on the sidelines of the July 7approval of the first treaty aimed at the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the UN headquarters in New York.

Commenting on the historic signature, Reza Najafi, recalls that Israel is the only power in the Middle East to possess the atomic weapons and there are no reliable estimates of the arsenal it has. In contrast, Tehran raises the "proposal" for a "non-nuclear" region, confirming the "efforts" put in place by its leadership to "eliminate any threat" to stability.

The treaty – passed with 122 nations voting in favor, one against (Singapore) and one abstention - forbids a long series of activities related to the possession, experimentation and use of nuclear weapons or devices. The threat of using such weapons as a "deterrent" means of peace keeping is also forbidden.

However, none of the nine nations that actually possess nuclear weapons took part: the United States, Russia, Great Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel, and many of their closest allies. The governments of these countries have already pointed out on several occasions that they do not intend to consider the treaty or accession to it in the future. In a joint note, ambassadors from the United States, France and Great Britain have pointed out that it " clearly ignores " the elements underlying international security.

In addition, the document - the first multilateral act with binding value in over 20 years - is "incompatible" with the use of nuclear power as a means to ward off the escalation of conflicts, "essential to maintaining peace" in Europe and north Asia over the last 70 years."

The Iranian representative to the AIEA spoke of a "historic day" on the day it was signed more than 70 years after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and almost 50 years after the ratification of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. He also promised to work for a [Middle Eastern] region free of atomic threat.

After years of embargo, in 2015, Iran obtained a partial lightening of the economic sanctions imposed by the West, in exchange for the agreement on the controversial atomic program. It involves cutting centrifuges to "enrich" uranium - capable of theoretically creating the bomb - from 19,000 to a total of 5,000. They also agreed to increased inspections by UN experts. The deal will remain in force for at least 10 years. There is also a limit on uranium stocks, which should remain below 300 kg for the next 15 years.

The agreement was welcomed by a majority of the international community, except for some critical positions, including Israel and the US Congress. The United States has maintained a series of sanctions because of Tehran's ballistic missile program, as well as support for [armed] Shiite movements in the Middle East. Among them Hezbollah in Lebanon, the government of Damascus in Syria and the Houthi "rebels" in Yemen.

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