Iran is set to bring back into serious contention the goal of a time bound removal of all atomic weapons and making available to all the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology.

On Saturday, Iran, in the presence of a global audience that is expected to include representatives from 60 countries, will set the tone for two days of deliberations that is likely to yield a road-map for the total elimination of world nuclear military arsenals. Simultaneously, Tehran is pitching for bringing into sharper focus the need for making available, without discrimination, nuclear technology on an unprecedented scale.

Anticipating that critics will question the timing of the Tehran conclave, Iranian officials insist that their meeting is not a knee-jerk reaction to the recently concluded Washington nuclear security summit. On the contrary, they point out that the international gathering in Tehran is the beginning of a sustained “process” to achieve global security.

Mehdi Akhoundzadeh, who is the secretary-general of the conference, ruled out a connection with the Washington summit. “This is a process, this is not a project. Some may think that this is to overshadow what's going on in Washington but we don't look at it that way.”

Analysts say the conference will hope to generate a global debate on the need to “strengthen” the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) so that achievement of disarmament and, in equal measure, the non-discriminatory sharing of nuclear know-how is highlighted and reinforced. Hoping to set the goals of disarmament within the ambit of the NPT, the conference could call for an amendment to the treaty by advocating the introduction of a time-line in it to eliminate global atomic weapon stockpiles.

The Iranians are also expected to highlight that they reject the pursuit of atomic weapons and are not in contention for acquiring them. Observers say that the hosts are likely to stress two major points to make their case. First, Iran fully recognises the horror of mass destruction weapons as it has been a victim of chemical weapon attacks during the course of the Iran-Iraq war, which was fought in the eighties. Second, the production, stockpiling and use of weapons of mass destruction is forbidden under the tenets of Islam, and has been so pronounced by the apex body of Shia clerics and other top religious figures.

The conference is expected to express its deep concern about the dangers of an accidental nuclear attack. Besides, in calling for total elimination of nuclear weapons, it would seek to reject the notion that possession of atomic stockpiles by “mature democracies” is tacitly acceptable.

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