UNITED NATIONS – Iran's foreign minister said Friday his country would "leave no stone unturned" in assuring the world its nuclear program is for peaceful uses.
Kamal Kharrazi (search) told the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting that "legitimate disarmament" must be nondiscriminatory — a jab directed at Israel, the Middle East's only nuclear power.
Kharrazi said that his country was the only victim of weapons of mass destruction in recent years, a reference to Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq fought during the 1980s.
As a result, "Iran feels very strongly about the absolute imperative collective and rule-based multilateral campaign to eradicate all these weapons and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons as an interim measure," Kharrazi said.
But Kharrazi, whose government has come under fire in recent weeks over questions about whether it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, said such disarmament efforts must be undertaken in a "nondiscriminatory manner."
The comment was a reference to Israel, the only nation in the conflict-ridden Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons, although Israeli officials have refused to confirm this.
"While we insist on our right to technology for peace purposes, we have left, and will leave, no stone unturned in order to provide assurances of our peaceful intentions," Kharrazi said.
Kharrazi said Iran has demonstrated its commitment to fighting terrorism through the arrest and extradition of "the greatest number of Al Qaeda members apprehended by any single state to date."
Kharrazi said U.N. efforts to establish a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East have been "systematically obstructed by Israel's intransigence and its rejection of all multilateral instruments."
He said all the countries in the region considered "Israel's arsenal, including its weapons of mass destruction, combined with its policy and record of aggression and state terrorism, as the single greatest threat to regional and global peace and security."
Earlier this week, Israel said that Iran will never abandon plans to develop nuclear weapons and called for the U.N. Security Council "to put an end to this nightmare."
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom (search) sidestepped the question of whether Israel would take military action against Iran if it continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
"They are trying to buy time, and the time has come to move the Iranian case to the Security Council in order to put an end to this nightmare," he told reporters Wednesday after meeting Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search).