Iran’s foreign minister used a speech to a U.N. conference on the illegal trade in small arms Wednesday to condemn Israel and comment on the threat he said was posed by its presumed nuclear arsenal.
While stemming the illicit trade in small arms was the meeting’s focus, “fighting proliferation in weapons of mass destruction, and combating the threats posed by those who possess such weapons — and particularly the Zionist regime — will always remain our greatest goal,” said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
His remarks veered from the prepared text of his statement, which made no reference to Israel.
Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, has been on the defensive over its own nuclear program.
Tehran says it is pursuing nuclear enrichment to produce electricity, but Western powers have demanded that it suspend this activity, suspecting it is using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for the production of atomic weapons.
Iran has argued repeatedly that the West is using a double standard against it by ignoring Israel, which is assumed to have about 200 nuclear weapons but has never confirmed having any and, unlike Tehran, has not joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.