Israeli soldiers load atomic handgrenades onto a military vehicle as Israeli orthodox Jews show their support for the troops, along the Israeli Lebanese border Wednesday July 26, 2006.

Al Jazeera

Iran’s foreign ministry has said the United States should concentrate on getting Israel to dismantle its nuclear arsenal, instead of criticising Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The comments came after Hillary Clinton last week said the US would arm its allies in the Gulf region if Iran built a nuclear weapon.

"There is no need for the US to provide a defence umbrella for the neighbouring countries," Hassan Qashqavi, a foreign ministry spokesman, said on Monday.

"It is enough to tell its ally, the Zionist regime and convince it for the issue of disarmament and dismantle its own 200 nuclear warheads from the occupied territories.

"It automatically will bring security to the region and all countries of the region will feel secure. The solution for defence umbrella is removing nuclear warheads of the Zionist regime and has no other way."

’No other way’

Israel and Washington suspect Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge it has repeatedly denied.

"It is our right to have peaceful nuclear activities. Nuclear weapons have no place in our defence structure," Qashqavi said.

Iran has defied UN Security Council sanctions by continuing to enrich uranium, a process which makes fuel for nuclear power plants but some nations fear could also be used to form an atomic bomb.

Proliferation experts widely agree that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny whether it has a nuclear arsenal and continues to campaign against Iran’s nuclear programme.

Analysts estimate that Israel has up to 200 long-range nuclear warheads.

In a documentary aired on Israeli television in 2001, Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, said that France agreed in 1956 to provide Israel with "a nuclear capacity" as part of secret negotiations ahead of the invasion of Egypt in the Suez crisis.

Dimona - Israel Secret Nuclear Bomb Reactor

Source: Al Jazeera