Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Reza Najafi, has voiced Iran’s strong support for the treaty prohibiting the possession and use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA) reported on July 8.
The treaty was adopted on July 7 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
Referring to Iran as “a victim of weapons of mass destruction” and “Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa against the use of such weapons,” Najafi reiterated Tehran’s decisive and unconditional support for the new treaty.
While drawing attention to what he called “the threat over the Middle East posed by nuclear weapons possessed by Israel,” Najafi maintained that “Iran’s proposal for creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons has been an instance of our efforts for eliminating the threat of such weapons in the region.”
Israel has never officially denied or admitted having nuclear weapons.
Iran’s own clandestine nuclear program, which came into light more than a decade ago, has been the subject of serious international concerns. Western nations, led by the United States, pressured Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program, as well as other efforts aimed at developing nuclear weapons options.
The new treaty was adopted despite the fact that a number of countries stayed out of the negotiations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia China, France, India, and Pakistan, as well as many of their allies. Israel and North Korea did not join the talks, either.
Japan, the only victim of nuclear attacks at the end of the World War II, also boycotted the negotiations along with members of NATO.
According to the UN’s website, the delegations of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, said in a joint press statement issued on July 8 that they “have not taken part in the negotiation of the treaty… and do not intend to sign, ratify, or ever become party to it.”
Meanwhile, they reiterated, “This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment,” adding, “Accession to the ban treaty is incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years.”
Furthermore, they highlighted the fact that the new treaty does not provide the necessary tools for stopping North Korea’s nuclear program and eliminating its threats.
North Korea, which tested its first ballistic missile last week, has exacerbated international concerns over its nuclear program.
The world nuclear powers also argued that by emphasizing their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), they were actually playing a deterrent role against nuclear attacks.
The decades-old NPT not only bans signatories from developing nuclear arms but it also urges them to reduce nuclear arsenals.
Finally, the treaty was adopted by a vote of 122 in favor to one against (Netherlands), with one abstention (Singapore).
The new treaty prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapons-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.
“We feel emotional because we are responding to the hopes and dreams of the present and future generations,” said Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, who serves as the president of the conference that negotiated the treaty in response to a mandate given by the UN General Assembly.
“The treaty represents an important step and contribution toward the common aspirations of a world without nuclear weapons,” the spokesman for Secretary-General António Guterres said following its adoption.
However, the practical impact of the treaty can be questioned when the world’s major powers and current members of “the nuclear club” have not endorsed it.