by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) Nov 06, 2012
Iran has decided to attend a conference in Finland next month on creating a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear weapons, Tehran's ambassador to the UN atomic agency said Tuesday.
"I announced officially today (Tuesday) in a Brussels ... that the Islamic Republic of Iran has decided to participate in the conference in Helsinki in December," Ali Asghar Soltanieh told AFP by phone from Brussels.
"We are serious about this matter and we have decided that we are going to actively participate in this conference," said Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.
Iran, suspected by many in the international community of seeking nuclear weapons despite its denials, boycotted an earlier meeting a year ago in Vienna on creating such a zone in the volatile region.
It had said such a conference was "useless" as long as Israel, the area's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), as Tehran did decades ago.
Israel has not yet said whether it will attend the Helsinki conference, an exact date for which has not yet been set.
But the head of the country's nuclear agency said in September that the "current volatile and hostile" situation in the region was not "conducive" to the creation of such a zone.
"Such a process can only be launched when peaceful relations exist for a reasonable period of time in the region," Shaul Horev, the head of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC), had said in Vienna.
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