PM Abe, Iranian President call for nuclear disarmament at UN meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of Iran were among world leaders who called for international nuclear disarmament at the opening of the first ever high level meeting on the topic during the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

"The devastation that occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki reminds us of the humanitarian consequences resulting from the use of nuclear weapons... such tragedies should never be repeated," said Abe.

Abe also invoked the Japanese constitution's desire for "eternal peace" in affirming Japan's commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear threats are now "more diverse and challenging than what we encountered in the cold war era," said Abe, mentioning attempts by North Korea to develop nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear terrorism by non-state actors.

Iranian President Rouhani, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, a group of 120 countries that do not align themselves with any major power, said that "no nation should possess nuclear weapons."

Rouhani lamented the lack of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East and said that the creation of such a zone was necessary "to avoid unwanted consequences."

To this end, Rouhani said that all nuclear activities in the region should be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and called on Israel to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

However, the Iranian President made no mention in his speech of the country's own nuclear development program which has been widely suspected to be for military purposes. In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Rouhani expressed willingness to restart talks on the matter.

The Iranian President also called for the Conference on Disarmament to develop a convention to prohibit states from possessing, testing, or threatening to use nuclear weapons.

The remarks came after the two leaders met for talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called on North Korea to demonstrate a comittment to "verifiable denuclearization" and Iran to increase the transparency of its nuclear program in his remarks at the meeting.