The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi said that it is a “moral responsibility” of states to work toward nuclear disarmament, and called out the United States for attempting to start a new nuclear arms race.
The remarks came on Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly, during the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Araghchi said that Iran remains committed to global nuclear disarmament, which he said was a “legal, political and moral responsibility.”
The existing nuclear powers however, are continuing to develop and expand their nuclear arsenals and technology, the Iranian diplomat said.
“Recently we hear an alarming announcement by a nuclear weapon state that it intends to continuously strengthen and expand its nuclear arsenal to ensure its place 'at the top of the pack,'” Araghchi said.
He also pointed to the development of “mini-nukes” by a “certain nuclear-weapon state.” The United States is currently developing smaller yield nuclear weapon technology, that many in the international community worry could lower the threshold for the use of such weapons
Such development, Araghchi says, puts existing nuclear-weapons powers in a state of non-compliance with the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
“The non-nuclear-weapon states shall not remain indifferent towards the 47-year non-compliance of nuclear-weapon states with their explicit nuclear disarmament obligations,” he said. Under the non-proliferation treaty, the existing nuclear powers agreed to work toward nuclear disarmament, while non-nuclear countries agreed to refrain from developing such weapons.
At least three countries, Israel, India and Pakistan, have refused to sign the treaty but have pursued nuclear weapons anyway. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea had signed the treaty, but withdrew in 2003, after which time it began to develop and test nuclear weapons.
The existing recognized nuclear powers under the treaty are China, France, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
In 2015, Iran signed a deal with six major world powers that placed limits on its nuclear development in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against them. Iran has consistently maintained that their efforts have always only been for peaceful development as is allowed within the framework of the non-proliferation treaty.
However, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Iran of violating the “spirit” of the deal, and has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from it. The agreement still has widespread international support from the other signers.
Iran was one of the 122 countries that voted in the United Nations earlier this year to ban nuclear weapons entirely, whereas the United States and the other Nuclear Powers refused to participate in the talks.