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Egypt to manage UN nuclear arms debate

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Egypt’s UN representative in Geneva to push for Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East

Egypt is set to “manage and coordinate” a United Nations debate on nuclear disarmament to be held on 20-23 May in Geneva.

“The selection of Egypt reflects the international recognition of the Egyptian experience and efforts in promoting international action to free the world of nuclear weapons,” said Egypt’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva Walid Abdel Nasser, according to a Sunday foreign ministry statement.

The conference aims to kick start negotiations on a variety of issues relating to nuclear weapons, “which include nuclear disarmament and a treaty to stop the production of fissile material and to stop the arms race in outer space.”

Over the last year the foreign ministry has been pushing for action on the issue of nuclear disarmament, as well as ridding the Middle East region of weapons of mass destruction.

During his address at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy suggested a three point plan with the aim of ridding the Middle East of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Abdel Nasser stressed the need to create “a zone free of nuclear weapons” and the importance of following the suggested plan to achieve this goal.

The first front is to push for the convening of an international conference to rid the region of such weapons. The conference was originally scheduled to take place in 2012 but was postponed due to lack of cooperation by the Israeli side, according to the ministry and the Arab League.

The plan put forward by Fahmy calls on Middle Eastern countries and the five permanent-members of the Security Council to submit letters to the Secretary General of the UN expressing their support to rid the region of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The second step is to ensure that those countries in the region that have not yet signed or ratified international conventions on such weapons  do so by the end of the year.

He called on Israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty and to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and to sign and ratify the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). He also called on Syria to ratify the BWC and to continue to take the steps it has agreed to under the CWC. Fahmy said that Egypt would also ratify the BWC as well as signing and ratifying the CWC, “provided that all countries of the Middle East complete accession measures to the international conventions.”

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones have been set up in five regions around the world, namely, Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, South East Asia, Africa and Central Asia, according to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)

 

About the author

Joel Gulhane

News Reporter

Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane


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