UNITED NATIONS - Iran told a U.N. panel Monday that the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal under which American firms will sell nuclear technology to India had "severely damaged" the Nulcear Non-proliferation (NPT). Speaking at the start of a two-week meeting of the 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Hosseini lashed out at "horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons through providing nuclear equipment, material and technology to non-parties of the NPT in violation" of its articles. He said the endorsement of a U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal by the world's top producers of atomic technology violated the treaty provisions. The nuclear deal reverses more than 30 years of US policy banning the export of nuclear technology to India in exchange for international inspections of India's civilian nuclear energy programme. Iran is a signatory to the NPT, which has not been signed by Israel, India and Pakistan. Hosseini also sharply criticised the United States, Britain and France for "continuous nuclear cooperation" with Israel, saying support for the Jewish state was a source of concern for the entire Middle East. "Continuous nuclear cooperation of the United States, UK and France with the Zionist regime is a total disregard with the obligations under the treaty ... and a source of real concern for the international community, especially the parties to the treaty in the Middle East," he said. The failure of the big nuclear powers to disarm has "accelerated the nuclear arms race," Hosseini added. He repeated Tehran's dismissal of Western suspicions about Iran's nuclear program, saying it was entirely peaceful. Hosseini voiced support for a speech given earlier by Cuba's U.N. Ambassador Abelardo Moreno on behalf of non-aligned developing countries, an alliance that includes Iran. Moreno, also without naming India, criticized the endorsement of the U.S.-India nuclear deal by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, an informal club of the world's top producers of nuclear-related technology. The group agreed in September to lift a ban on nuclear trade with India, imposed after its first nuclear test in 1974 and for its refusal to join the non-proliferation treaty. Moreno said there should be a total ban on nuclear trade with any state outside the treaty, while developing nations should have greater access to atomic technology. Hosseini, the Iranian delegate, spoke of a "discriminatory and double-standard approach" that developing states face in acquiring technology. Delegates at the meeting hope to agree on an agenda and action plan for a possible overhaul of the treaty at a major conference next year. Recent meetings have struggled to bridge the divide between developing and rich nations. Egyptian envoy Maged Abdelaziz told delegates that Israel's nuclear programme and refusal to clearly accept the creation of a separate Palestinian state constitute "the main obstacle to achieving regional peace and security" in the Middle East. Moreno, however, praised as "a welcome gesture" recent statements by the United States and Russia that they are ready to discuss reducing their nuclear arsenals. Hosseini also referred to that, saying previous U.S. pledges had been ignored. "It is essential that the words be translated into actions and implementation in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner," he said. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Russian-U.S. dialogue and urged Iran and North Korea to return to stalled talks on their respective nuclear programs. North Korea withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty 2003 and tested a nuclear device in 2006. Under the treaty, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China were allowed to keep nuclear weapons though they were obliged to engage in negotiations aimed at scrapping them. Developing states say they have ignored their duty to disarm.