Iranian VP steps up calls for nuclear disarmament

SEOUL, May 18 (MNA) – Iranian vice president on Wednesday called for the nuclear disarmament of the world, the latest expression of Tehran's determination to join the international community after the lifting of sanctions.

Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar made the call during an interview with Yonhap News Agency, saying Iran believes nuclear disarmament is a "necessity" for all countries.

"We believe not only in a Middle East with no nuclear weapons, but also a globe with no nuclear weapons," she said in response to a question about her view on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. "So we believe in the disarmament issue for all countries, and it should be seen in a just and equitable manner with no double standards."

Ebtekar, who also heads Iran's Department of Environment, said, "The sanctions were detrimental for our economy, yes, but we survived," she said. "We managed to develop a resilient economy and to survive, but the environment was really under pressure during the sanctions."

With the sanctions in place, Iran had limited access to the technologies it needed to curb air pollution and upgrade the standards of its refineries, according to Ebtekar.

"Those sanctions were adversely affecting not only our environment but the global environment," she said.

The vice president is the first high-ranking Iranian government official to visit Seoul since President Park Geun-hye made a state visit to the Islamic Republic earlier this month.

Park's visit was a "milestone" in the two countries' relationship, according to Ebtekar, as the two sides seek to expand cooperation from trade and investment to the environment, culture and tourism.

As a growing number of South Korean firms push to make inroads into the emerging Iranian market, the vice president called for close attention to environmental standards, saying it is a priority of her government to guard against the adverse health effects of pollution in the air, water and soil.

Ebtekar was first appointed vice president of Iran in 1997, becoming the first female Iranian to hold the post.

During her three-day visit to Seoul, she has attended the Asian Leadership Conference and signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea's environment ministry and met with Park.


Interview by Lee Haye-ah



News Code 116676


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