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Iran warms to nuke-free Middle East

Nov. 7, 2012 at 9:27 AM

BRUSSELS, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The Iranian government announced it was ready to take part in a conference aimed at creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

Jim Kelly, the Irish delegate to the United Nations, last month told the world body that a proposed conference on creating a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction was an obvious opportunity to address regional security concerns.

Iranian delegate Eshagh al-Habib said the refusal of the "Zionist (Israel) regime" to join the proliferation treaties was one of the primary causes for regional concern.

Ali Ashghar Soltaniyeh, the Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iran was determined to play an active role in an upcoming Helsinki conference on a nuclear-free Middle East.

"We are of the strong belief that all countries should be mobilizing themselves to make sure that this noble goal of a Middle East free from all the weapons of mass destruction will be realized," he was quoted by the semiofficial Fars News Agency as saying from Brussels.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told the U.N. General Assembly this week that Iran hasn't diverted nuclear material from peaceful purposes, though concerns about undeclared material meant that "we cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities."

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