Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday called for states that threaten to use atomic weapons to be punished, a clear reference to a new US nuclear strategy released last month.
Speaking at a meeting of the 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he urged "considering any threat to use nuclear weapons or attack against peaceful nuclear facilities as a breach of international peace and security."
Such threats should meet with "swift reaction from the United Nations and termination of all cooperation of NPT member states with the threatening aggressor state," Ahmadinejad said.
"The US has not only used nuclear weapons in the past, it continues to threaten other countries, including mine, with (nuclear arms)," said the Iranian president.
The delegations of the United States, Britain and France all walked out of the UN General Assembly chamber during the Iranian president's speech.
Ahmadinejad at conference (Photo: AP)
Among the punishments that should be meted out to countries that use, or threaten to use, atomic weapons against other nations is suspension from the board of governors of the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna, Ahmadinejad said.
The Iranian leader went on to attack Israel directly, saying, "The Zionist regime continues to threaten the countries of the Middle East with its arsenal. It continues to threaten the world's countries with acts of terror and invasion, and even gets the necessary assistance for its nuclear program."
The United States' so-called nuclear posture review reduces the role of atomic weapons in US defense policy but does not rule out the use of nuclear warheads against countries like Iran and North Korea that are considered to be NPT violators.
Both the United States and Israel have suggested that they could use military force against Iranian nuclear facilities, which they suspect are part of a covert atomic weapons program. Iran denies pursuing atomic weapons and insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to peacefully generating electricity.
Earlier, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference that the "onus" is on Iran to clear up suspicions that its nuclear program is aimed at building atomic weapons.
Ban called on Iran to comply fully with UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it halt its uranium enrichment program.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad rejected allegations that his country is developing nuclear weapons, citing "not a single credible proof."
Reuters, AP contributed to the report