TEHRAN – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking on Wednesday on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the group's and Iran's position that Israel must join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in order to bring about a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Addressing a UN nuclear disarmament conference on the sidelines of the General Assembly, Rouhani, who is the current leader of NAM, said, "Almost four decades of international efforts to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East have regrettably failed."
"Urgent practical steps towards the establishment of such a zone are necessary," he said. "Israel, the only non-party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in this region, should join thereto without any further delay."
Rouhani said that "all nuclear activities in the region should be subject to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) comprehensive safeguards."
Israel is widely believed to possess the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies having nuclear weapons.
The idea of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons was first codified in the 1991 UN Security Council ceasefire resolution that ended the first Persian Gulf War.
NAM, begun in 1961 by mostly developing nations who didn't want to take sides in the Cold War, is an influential bloc within the UN General Assembly. Iran became chair of the movement for three years in 2012.
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