Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Louis Charbonneau / Reuters – 2015-05-23 02:03:47
US Kills Nuclear-Free Mideast Conference, Citing Israel
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
NEW YORK (May 22, 2015) — Four weeks of UN efforts to get together a conference on a nuclear weapons ban in the Middle East ended in failure today, with the US spurning the deal on the conference, citing Israel.
Though the US initially backed the nuclear-free Middle East effort, they later realized Israel is the only nation in the region with such arms, and has since criticized the effort as unfair.
Though US officials have been to Israel in recent days to try to get them to sign off on some vague notion of an eventual nuclear-free Middle East, there was no progress, as Israel wonâ€™t even publicly affirm their arsenal.
After failing to get Israel to okay the deal, the US angrily blamed Egypt for the whole thing, saying theyâ€™d “cynically manipulated” the process by bringing up Israelâ€™s arsenal at all.
Dispute over Mideast Nuclear Arms Ban Torpedoes UN Conference
Louis Charbonneau / Reuters
UNITED NATIONS (May 22, 2015) – A month-long review conference on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended in failure on Friday after its members were unable to overcome disagreements on an atomic weapons ban for the Middle East.
After four weeks of negotiations at the United Nations on ways to improve compliance with the pact, there was no consensus among its 191 signatories. US Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller announced there was “no agreement” and accused some countries of undermining the negotiations.
Gottemoeller did not specify any nations but diplomats said she was referring to Egypt.
“We have made clear throughout the process that we will not accept the efforts by some to cynically manipulate the (conference) or try to leverage the negotiation to advance their narrow objectives,” she told attendees.
Egypt denied trying to wreck the conference.
The US concerns were echoed by Canada and Britain. Cairo’s top delegate, Assistant Foreign Minister Hashim Badr, blamed Washington, London and Ottawa for the failure to achieve consensus, saying it was a “sad day for the NPT.”
Last month, Egypt, backed by other Arab and non-aligned states, proposed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convene a regional conference on banning weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as called for at the 2010 NPT review. The conference would be with or without Israel’s participation, without agreement on an agenda and with no discussion of regional security issues.
Those conditions are unacceptable to Israel and Washington.
Decisions at NPT review conferences, which are held every five years, are made by consensus.
Israel neither confirms nor denies the widespread assumption that it controls the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal. Israel, which has never joined the NPT, agreed to take part in the review meeting as an observer, ending a 20-year absence.
The call for a 2012 conference on a regional WMD ban, approved at the 2010 NPT review meeting, infuriated Israel. But diplomats said Israel eventually agreed to attend planning meetings. The 2012 conference never took place, which annoyed Egypt and other Arab states.
Egypt’s proposals, Western diplomats say, were intended to focus attention on Israel. Washington and Israel say Iran’s nuclear program is the real regional threat.
Iran says its program is peaceful. It is negotiating with world powers to curb it in exchange for lifting sanctions.
Israel has said it would consider joining the NPT only once at peace with its Arab neighbors and Iran.
There were disagreements on other aspects of the NPT but delegates said the Middle East issue was the most divisive.
US Rejects Nuclear Disarmament Document
Over Israel Concerns, Singles Out Egypt for Criticism
UNITED NATIONS (May 22, 2015) — The United States is rejecting a global document toward ridding the world of nuclear weapons, saying Egypt and other states “cynically manipulated” the process by trying to set a deadline for Israel and its neighbors to meet within months on a Middle East zone free of such weapons.
The final document of a landmark treaty review conference Friday would call on the UN secretary-general to convene the conference no later than March 2016, regardless of whether Israel and its neighbors agree on an agenda.
Israel is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has never publicly declared what is widely considered to be an extensive nuclear weapons program.
A conference might force Israel to acknowledge it.
Discussions on the draft document are continuing after a request from Iran.
US Official in Israel to Discuss Mideast Nuclear Arms Ban
Louis Charbonneau / Reuters
UNITED NATIONS (May 21, 2015) — A senior US official is in Israel to discuss the possibility of a compromise that would keep alive the idea of someday banning nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, US officials and UN diplomats said on Thursday.
Friday is the final day of a month-long review conference on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at United Nations headquarters in New York. The conference has bogged down on several issues, above all the failure to convene a planned 2012 conference on a Middle East weapons of mass destruction (WMD) ban.
Without agreement on the Middle East issue, diplomats said treaty signatories might fail to agree approve final outcome document at the conference.
Last month, Egypt, backed by other Arab and non-aligned states, proposed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convene a regional conference on banning WMD as called for at the 2010 NPT review meeting, with or without Israel’s participation. Washington and Israel oppose the idea.
The United States has been trying to come up with a compromise that satisfies the Arabs but does not alienate Israel, diplomats said.
A State Department official said on condition of anonymity that Assistant Secretary of State Tom Countryman was currently in Israel to discuss the WMD-free zone and other issues.
“Both the United States and Israel support the creation of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East,” said Kurtis Cooper, a spokesman for the US mission to the United Nations. “We are working closely with our Israeli partners to advance our mutual interests, including preserving the NPT.”
Israel neither confirms nor denies the widespread assumption that it controls the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal. Israel, which has never joined the NPT, agreed to take part in the review conference as an observer, ending a 20-year absence.
Diplomats were skeptical about Countryman’s prospects for success.
The call for a 2012 conference on a regional WMD ban, approved at the 2010 NPT review meeting, infuriated Israel. But diplomats said Israel eventually agreed to attend planning meetings. The planned 2012 conference never took place, which annoyed Egypt and other Arab states.
Egypt’s latest proposals, Western diplomats say, are intended to focus attention on Israel. Washington and Israel say Iran’s nuclear program is the real regional threat.
Iran says its program is peaceful. It is currently negotiating with world powers to curb it in exchange for lifting sanctions.
The Jewish state has said it would consider joining the NPT only once at peace with its Arab neighbors and Iran.
(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington.)
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