Iranian president continues to challenge West. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
on Saturday opened a nuclear conference in Tehran in response to the nuclear summit
launched in Washington last week. He urged for the establishment of a new global body to oversee nuclear disarmament, and called for the expulsion of the United States from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The two-day international summit in Tehran was opened under the title: "Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for no one." In his opening speech, Ahmadinejad said, "An independent international group which plans and oversees nuclear disarmament and prevents proliferation should be set up."
He proposed the IAEA suspend all countries that have used, or that threaten to use nuclear weapons – the United States in particular.
"Up until now, their participation, pressure and political power over the agency have prevented it from carrying out its legal tasks," Ahmadinejad said, adding, "We must not allow the United States to be a member of the agency's board of governors, after it used weapons that were produced from nuclear waste in the war in Iraq which led to the spread of neurological diseases in Iraq and in the region."
He urged the American leadership to refrain from making nuclear threats. "You must know that the age of reliance on an atom bomb has passed. Threats to make use of such weapons are for uncivilized people who lack common sense."
The Iranian president suggested the Americans "work for peace and security in the region" instead of "following the path of their predecessors, who ended up in the trash bin of history."
Taking part in the Tehran summit are 14 foreign minister, mainly from Arab and Gulf countries, as well as UN and IAEA representatives. Russia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates settled for sending their deputy foreign ministers to take part in the event.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman explained that several European and South African delegations have yet to arrive, due to the eruption of the volcano in Iceland, which led to the cancelation
of flights in Europe.
The United Nations Security Council imposed three rounds of sanction against Iran during Ahmadinejad's term as president, after the Islamic Republic refused to comply with demands to suspend its nuclear program. On Saturday, the president once again said the "unjust" stage of the UN Security Council should be changed.
Before Ahmadinejad's speech, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the use of nuclear arms is "haram," an Islamic term meaning "prohibited by religion."
"We consider the use of nuclear arms as haram," Khamenei said in a message read out by an aide at the start of the summit.
"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," Khamenei said.
The West fears Iran is planning to produce nuclear weapons, but Tehran claims its nuclear program is meant solely for peaceful purposes, such as the production of electricity and the development of medicine.
AFP contributed to this report