The 84-year-old Pope made his views known as Tehran faces an ultimatum to freeze its uranium enrichment programme -- which Washington says is a front for making nuclear weapons -- or face United Nations sanctions. Reuters
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul on Friday told Iran it had a duty to comply with international controls on nuclear proliferation.
The 84-year-old Pope made his views known as Tehran faces an ultimatum to freeze its uranium enrichment programme -- which Washington says is a front for making nuclear weapons -- or face United Nations sanctions.
The Pope told Iran's new ambassador in a welcoming address the construction of a peaceful world "presupposes reciprocal trust in order to accept the other side not as a threat but as an interlocutor."
This entailed all sides accepting "conditions and mechanisms of control" of multinational agreements, including those on "the commerce of weapons and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," he said.
The Pope, in his address to ambassador Mohammad Javad Faridzadeh, grouped the issue of nuclear proliferation under an umbrella of topics he said concerned "the common good of humanity".
Though his comments were couched in general terms, the leader of the world's one billion Catholics left little doubt he had in mind the current tension over Iran's nuclear programme.
Tehran insists that its nuclear programme, including its efforts to produce enriched uranium, is solely for civilian use.
But Washington argues that the enriched uranium is destined for use in weapons.
It is demanding that Tehran be referred to the U.N. Security Council on Nov. 25, the date of the next meeting of proliferation watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for violating nuclear non-proliferation treaties.
European nations are trying to persuade Tehran to accept a freeze on enrichment activities in the hope of avoiding a showdown at the United Nations.
The European Union says it will join Washington in referring Tehran to the United Nations unless a verifiable freeze is in place by the time of the IAEA meeting.
Talks between Iran and the EU are due to resume in Paris on Nov. 5, while this week officials from Britain, Germany and France met with their Iranian counterparts in Vienna to try to prepare a deal.
The EU is offering Iran incentives, including the resumption of stalled trade talks, if it scraps its enrichment programme.