Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has been making repeated overtures to the United States and President Obama as of late. He has released political prisoners from Iranian prisons that have long not even been acknowledged, he said that war was a gesture of weakness that Iran would not pursue against the U.S. or its enemies and, now, hours before his first significant high level meeting between the U.S. and Iran since the Iranian revolution 1979, Rouhani urged the destruction of all nuclear weapons.
Iran has been facing severe international embargoes because of its nuclear program due to international suspicion that it was building a nuclear arsenal. And now, Rouhani is making further assurances that this is not the case. “Any use of nuclear weapons is a violation of the U.N. charter and a crime against humanity,” Rouhani said, speaking at U.N. headquarters in New York. As head of the Non-Aligned Movement, Rouhani called for a total destruction of nuclear weapons and said “de-targeting, de-alerting or reducing the number of nuclear weapons [is] not [a] substitute for their total elimination.”
The nuclear weapon states must lead the charge to disarm, Rouhani said and he called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty “without delay” in a rare, direct reference to the country. In his speech, Rouhani laid out the following three pronged plan to promote disarmament. He called for an early commencement of negotiations, in the Conference on Disarmament, on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons for the prohibition of their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and for their destruction.
He urged the designation of Sept. 26 as an international day dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons. Rouhani also proposed convening a high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament in five years to review progress in this regard.