Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Middle East WMD-free pact still possible

This was submitted as a letter to the editor at the New York Times on 4 June:
Re: “Lost opportunity on disarmament) Opinion, (June 4).
Your forceful opinion on the failure of the recent review conference of the 192-nation Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) rightly pointed to a breakdown between certain mid-east states, led by Egypt, and the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, over a potential peace conference on removal of weapons of mass destruction from the region.
The Times reported earlier  (May 23) that Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller accused Egypt and other Arab states of bringing "unrealistic and unworkable conditions" to the negotiations.
Before diplomatic despair sets in, may I draw attention to the Paris Summit of Mediterranean countries, held on July 23,  2008, under the co-presidency of the French Republic and  Egypt - and importantly in the presence of Israel -  which was represented by its then Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, the issue of peace within the region were explored in depth, and the final declaration stated the participants, including Israel,  were in favour of:

"regional security by acting in favour of nuclear, chemical and biological non-proliferation through adherence to and compliance with a combination of international and regional nonproliferation regimes and arms control and disarmament agreements.."

The final document went on to say:
"The parties shall pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical and biological, and their delivery systems. Furthermore the parties will consider practical steps to ….promote conditions likely to develop good-neighbourly relations among themselves and support processes aimed at stability, security."
I think hope lies in resurrecting this agreement.

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