Pope Francis (file)
Pope Francis (file) Flash 90

Pope Francis threw his support behind Iran's accord with major powers as he backed a goal of global abolition of nuclear weapons, AFP reports Friday. 

The Iran agreement "is proof of the potential of political goodwill, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy," Francis said in an address to the United Nations.

"I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved." 

Francis is the latest of several powerful voices to back the landmark accord struck in July with six world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany - which lifts sanctions in exchange for the Islamic Republic to stop building nuclear weapons. 

He made his remarks a day after a friendly welcome at the US Congress, where many Republican lawmakers have vehemently criticized President Barack Obama for negotiating with Iran, an enemy of the United States and Israel since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Critics have noted that  Iran can produce nuclear weapons at a future date - whether in 10-15 years' time when the deal's limitations expire, or by breaking its commitments before that time - and that money given to Iran via assets freed by the deal will fund global terror groups. 

In his UN address, Francis also appealed anew for the protection of Christians and other people persecuted by extremists in Syria and Iraq.