Salehi Calls Nuclear Arms Production a ‘Great Sin’

The Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in a statement to the Conference on Disarmament here that there were two ways to engage with Iran on its nuclear program: engagement or confrontation. Iran, “confident of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, has always insisted on the first alternative,” he said.

Echoing sentiments expressed in speeches by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mr. Salehi denied that the nuclear program had a military purpose, saying Iran would be a stronger country without nuclear arms.

“We do not see any glory, pride or power in the nuclear weapons — quite the opposite,” he said. He added that on the basis of a religious decree by Ayatollah Khamenei, “the production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin.”

Mr. Salehi said the existence of nearly 23,000 nuclear weapons in the world posed “the gravest threat” to sustainable international security.

He accused the West of having a double standard in its support of Israel, the only Middle East country believed to possess nuclear weapons.

Addressing the conference after Mr. Salehi, the American ambassador, Laura E. Kennedy, said Iran’s professed commitment to nuclear disarmament “stands in sharp contrast” to its failure to comply with international obligations.

She said Iran continued to move forward with uranium enrichment and continued to resist the transparency that would allow the international community to verify whether its nuclear program was peaceful. “This is hardly illustrative of a commitment to nuclear disarmament,” Ms. Kennedy said.

In a brief comment to reporters, Mr. Salehi said he expected the dialogue with the atomic energy agency to continue and had offered to hold additional talks in Tehran on a “new mechanism through which we can settle outstanding issues.”

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