Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has called on all countries to cease their nuclear weapons programs, emphasising the importance of ending the threat such weapons pose to humanity.
“Any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would constitute a crime against humanity and the continued existence of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to humanity," Zarif said at the beginning a month-long conference on the global anti-nuclear weapons treaty.
"We call upon the nuclear-weapon states to immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernising and extending the lifespan of their nuclear weapons and related facilities," Zarif added.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, France, Russia, UK and the U.S.- are officially known to possess nuclear weapons in accordance with the Treaty on the 1970 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (the Non Proliferation Treaty or NPT in short), which is intended to stop the spread of nuclear weapons technology.
The world’s major powers are close to concluding nuclear negotiations with Iran aimed at forcing Iran to fulfill the obligations of the NPT.
At the opening day of a month long conference at the UN concerning the NPT United States Secretary of State John Kerry told the 191 NPT signatories: "We are, in fact, closer than ever to the good, comprehensive deal that we have been seeking, and if we can get there, the entire world will be safer."
He also said bringing Iran back into compliance with the NPT was always at the heart of negotiations with Tehran.
"If finalised and implemented, [an agreement] will close off all of Iran's possible pathways to the nuclear material required for a nuclear weapon and give the international community the confidence that it needs to know that Iran's nuclear program is indeed exclusively peaceful," he said.
In a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, the United States Intelligence Community assessed that Iran had ended all "nuclear weapon design and weaponization work" in 2003. In 2012, U.S. intelligence agencies reported that Iran was pursuing research that could enable it to produce nuclear weapons, but was not attempting to do so.
Following the report, the world’s major powers sped up the nuclear talks with Iran.
After the conclusion of negotiations, Iran expects the UN to initially lift the latest, most damaging, sanctions.