Had called for formation of a new international committee

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left for New York on Sunday to participate in a major nuclear conference amid apprehensions in the United States about his possible role during deliberations.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is set to hold talks on Monday with Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the conference, held every five years to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT has faced strong criticism, especially from the developing countries for its inability to fulfil satisfactorily its mandate regarding non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

At a conference on disarmament and non-proliferation hosted by Iran on April 17-18, Mr. Ahmadinejad had called for the formation of a new international committee, responsible to the U.N. General Assembly to review the NPT and steer the global non-proliferation and disarmament agenda.

Before emplaning for the meeting, the President strongly criticised the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for its perceived failures to meet its objectives. “Disarmament and non-proliferation have not been materialised because new countries have acquired atomic bombs,” he was quoted as saying.

The IAEA had also fallen short in assisting NPT member States to gain access to peaceful nuclear energy and technology, he said. All previous NPT conferences had not achieved the required results, he added.

His presence and role during the deliberations have already begun to generate considerable comment in the American camp. Ahead of his arrival, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “If President Ahmadinejad wants to come and announce that Iran will abide by their non-proliferation requirements under the NPT, that would be very good news indeed and we would welcome that.”

However, she added that if “by coming he can somehow divert attention from this very important global effort or cause confusion that might possibly throw into doubt what Iran has been up to...then I don't believe he will have a particularly receptive audience.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad is likely to be the third speaker at the inaugural of conference after Mr. Ban and a representative of the Non-Aligned Movement.

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