U.N. chief urges meeting on nuclear-free Mideast
Ban Ki-moon warned that the failure to hold a conference could jeopardize the success of the 1970 agreement
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the failure to hold a conference on establishing a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East this year could jeopardize the success of next year’s review of the landmark 1970 agreement aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear arms.
Ban urged all parties to finalize arrangements for a Mideast conference to be held as soon as possible this year, in a report to the U.N. General Assembly circulated Thursday.
At the 2010 conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the 189 member nations that are party to the NPT called for convening a meeting in 2012 “on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”
It was scheduled to take place in Finland in late 2012, but the United States announced it would be delayed, apparently to save Israel, which is widely believed to possess a nuclear arsenal, though it has never confirmed having nuclear weapons.
The final preparatory conference for the 2015 review of the NPT ended in May without agreement on final recommendations, and one of the two key issues was the failure to hold a conference on a Mideast weapons-free zone. One recommendation called for convening the conference this year.
Iran, Israel and Arab states have taken part in several informal meetings, most recently in Geneva on June 24-25, attended by veteran Finnish diplomat Jaakko Laajava, who is serving as facilitator of the proposed Mideast conference to discuss the arrangements and outcomes of a conference.
“Despite these extended consultations, there continue to be differences among the parties on several important aspects of the conference, including on its agenda, and hence agreement on the modalities for the conference has not yet been reached,” the secretary-general said.
Ban said he “remains concerned” that a failure to convene the Mideast weapons-free-zone conference before the 2015 NPT review conference “may frustrate the ability of states to conduct a successful review of the operation of the (NPT) treaty and could undermine the treaty process and related non-proliferation and disarmament objectives.”
He expressed hope that countries in the region will take advantage of the opportunity to discuss security issues following the war between Israel and Hamas, and through a conference “initiate a process leading to the complete elimination of all weapons of mass destruction in the region.”
Human Rights Watch urges U.N. inquiry into 'systematic' Egypt killingsHundreds of supporters of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood have been killed and thousands arrested since he was ousted. Middle East
U.N. rights monitors urge action to stop Yazidi 'genocide'The militants have presented non-Sunnis with a "convert or die" option, said Christof Heyns, UN expert on abritrary executions. Middle East
U.N. chief urges calm over Ebola outbreakBan announces plans to step up the global response to the Ebola outbreak and bring it under control Africa
U.N. declares highest level of emergency in IraqThe Pentagon said there were few refugees on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar but the U.N. said tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped Middle East
U.N. food body says Gaza farms devastated by fightingFood prices have shot up for many items since the start of hostilities. Middle East
U.N. chief Ban names Spanish diplomat as new Libya envoyThe new head of the U.N.'s political mission in Libya will replace incumbant Tarek Mitri on Sept.1 Middle East
U.S., U.N. hail Iraq’s Maliki for stepping downIn a televised address, Iraq’s outgoing PM Nouri al-Maliki endorsed his successor Haider al-Abadi and was resigning to preserve unity Middle East