(AA) — Western powers and Iran are “closer than ever” to a comprehensive deal on the Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday.
Kerry’s remarks came on the first day of a UN conference to review the implementation of the global anti-nuclear weapons treaty.
Earlier this month, Iran and the P5+1 countries – U.S., Russia, UK, France, China plus Germany – reached a framework deal that envisages Tehran curbing its nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. The parties have until June 30 to reach a final agreement.
“I want you to know the hard work is far from over and some key issues remain unresolved. But we are, in fact, closer than ever to the good comprehensive deal that we have been seeking,” Kerry said.
“And if we can get there, the entire world will be safer,” he added.
With regards to his country’s atomic arsenal, Kerry said the U.S.’s nuclear stockpile now stood at its lowest level since the Cold War – down to 4,717 warheads as of last September.
He said the U.S. had eliminated more than 10,000 warheads in the past 20 years.
“We have and we will continue to scale down our arsenal, and to continue to move, step by step, toward nuclear disarmament,” he said.
Russia and the U.S. possess more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads.
Earlier in the day, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif demanded countries possessing nuclear weapons “immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernizing and extending the life span of their nuclear weapons and related facilities.”
“The continued existence of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to humanity,” he said at the start of the conference.
China, France, Russia, UK, and the U.S. – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – are officially recognized as possessing nuclear weapons by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the world’s primary nuclear disarmament pact.
Meanwhile, Kerry and Zarif held a closed meeting Monday on the sidelines of the conference to discuss efforts to reach a long-term nuclear deal, according to media reports.