Iran Seeks Nuclear-free Middle East, Calls for Israel to 'Give Up the Bomb'
May 4, 2015
RT News & Baher Kamal / Human Wrongs Watch
At a regional summit in late March, the Arab nations began plans to create an Arab version of NATO and backed Iran's call for the creation of a "nuclear-free zone" throughout the Middle East. Speaking on behalf of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement, Iran has called on Israel to destroy its nuclear arsenal, which poses a continued threat to regional security.
Iran Insists Israel 'Give Up the Bomb' as
Tehran Seeks Nuclear-free Middle East
TEHRAN (April 29, 2015) -- Iran has demanded that Israel give up its "nuclear weapons", as it spoke on behalf of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement. Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the bloc also wants a nuclear free-zone in the Middle East.
Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking at the United Nations for the non-aligned group of countries. Israel has never admitted or denied the widespread assumption it has nuclear weapons. However, Zarif says Israel's assumed nuclear arsenal was a threat to regional security.
The Iranian Foreign Minister said the non-aligned movement regards Israel's nuclear program as, "a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other states, and condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals," according to Reuters.
Israel has not signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though it has sent an observer to the month long conference for the first time in 20 years.
Zarif added that the non-aligned bloc are looking to create a nuclear free-zone in the Middle East "as a matter of high priority," which will only be possible, if Israel abandons its nuclear stockpile.
"Israel, [is] the only one in the region that has neither joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so, (. . .) renounce possession of nuclear weapons," AFP cited Zarif as saying.
The plan to create a nuclear free Middle East was agreed at the previous conference in 2010, but steps were never taken to ensure it was enforced.
Iran has been accused on numerous occasions by the West of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge that Tehran has repeatedly denied. The country says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes. Iran recently agreed on a framework deal concerning its nuclear interests with the P5+1 group in Switzerland, which would pave the way for it to be finalized in the summer.
However, Israel was highly critical of the move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that it "would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it."
During the conference, Tehran also demanded that countries who possessed nuclear weapons should not seek to modernize their weapons stockpiles.
"We call upon the nuclear-weapon states to immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernizing and extending the life span of their nuclear weapons and related facilities," Zarif said.
The head of the UN, Ban Ki-moon singled out the US and Russia for criticism for failing to advance their nuclear disarmament. He added this was a setback that marked a return to a Cold War mindset. He added that a nuclear free world was a "historic imperative of our time."
"I am deeply concerned that over the last five years this process seems to have stalled," the UN leader said, AFP reported.
In an apparent attempt to deflect criticism, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States wants to "leave the race for nuclear arms in the past."
"I am pleased to announce today that President Obama has decided that the United States will seek to accelerate the dismantling of retired nuclear warheads by 20 percent," Kerry said.
Meanwhile Russia is fully open to a serious dialogue on nuclear disarmament, but it must be without any "double standards," said the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Weapons Control, Mikhail Ulyanov.
"[Russia] is firmly committed to nuclear disarmament," he said. "Clear evidence of that is the consistent implementation of the Russian-American New START treaty."
The NPT came into force in 1970 and has seen a drastic cut in the number of nuclear weapons. However, UN officials believe that more can be done to reduce these stockpiles further.
Arabs Set to Create Their Own NATO,
Urge a Nuclear-free Middle East
Baher Kamal / Human Wrongs Watch
CAIRO (March 29, 2015) -- The creation of an Arab, NATO-style joint military force, the urgency of freeing the Middle East from nuclear weapons and a future inter-Arab common market are some of the key decisions adopted by the Arab leaders in their 26th Summit held Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on 28, 29 March 2015.
The summit declaration emphasises the need to free the Middle East from nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction and calls on Israel to join the NPT (Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty), as well as to submit all its nuclear facilities, and those of Iran, to the comprehensive safeguards regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Israel is the sole nuclear military power in the region. According to military experts, its arsenal amounts to 230 nuclear bombs. This figure would exceed the combined nuclear arsenal of India, with 80-90 atomic heads, and Pakistan with similar numbers.
According to the final declaration of the Arab summit, Arab states will join the new joint military force on a voluntary basis.
The joint force is set to intervene military to face eventual challenges threatening the security and safety of any member state at the official request of its authorities.
Diplomatic sources close to the summit stressed that Iraq expressed strong opposition to this resolution and renewed its rejection of any military intervention of any state in the affairs of any other country.
Iraq has been invaded and militarily occupied by the US-led military coalition for over a decade.
The establishment of the new Arab joint military force was approved by Sharm El-Sheikh Arab summit upon the Egyptian proposal, which Cairo launched a few weeks ago.
The ongoing Saudi-led coalition that has launched military attacks against Houthi forces in Yemen provided a further push to the creation of the Arab NATO.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are expected to form the major bulk of this joint force, to be joined by United Arab Emirates. Kuwait and eventually also Sudan, according to Arab diplomatic sources.
Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who chaired the summit, said a high-level panel will prepare the structure and mechanism of the joint force. The task is expected to be completed in four months from.
The joint Arab military may be formed by some 40,000 elite troops, backed by warplanes and warships.
Libyan different armed militias, which witnessed a progressive penetration of radical "jihadists", could be the next target of the new Arab joint force. It is estimated that there are currently up to 25 million weapons in hand of both the government and the militias.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia said that the painful reality experienced by a number of Arab countries from terrorism and internal conflicts and bloodshed, has been the inevitable result of the alliance between terrorism and sectarian-led regional powers "blatant interventions" in the Arab region to destabilize the security and stability in some Arab countries.
The Saudi king's statement was implicitly meant to the largely believed intervention of Qatar and Turkey, both allied of radical Islamists in the region.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt interrupted their diplomatic ties with Qatar a year ago, as result of what they considered as a "flagrant interference" in Arab states -- mainly Egypt and Libya -- through its strong support to the extremist wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied militia.
The summit called as well on Arab countries to support the budget of the Palestine for a year starting from the first April. Arab leaders also supported the Palestinian Central Council resolutions calling for a review of political, economic and security relations with Israel, to respect the signed agreements and resolutions of international legitimacy.
On Libya, the Arab summit called on member countries to provide full political and material support to the legitimate government in Libya, including supporting the Libyan national army.
The Arab leaders demanded the Security Council to quickly lift the ban on arms imports to the legitimate Libyan government. They also stressed their support to the Libyan government in its efforts to control the borders with neighboring countries. Qatar expressed full reservation regarding this resolution.
The summit also stressed the need for the UN Security Council to take full responsibilities towards dealing with the course of the Syrian crisis, and called for the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States to continue contacts with the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the establishment of a common plan of action to ensure the achievement of a political solution to the Syrian conflicts, according to the Geneva Conference 1.
As well, the Arab leaders renewed their emphasis on the full, absolute sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over the three Gulf islands claimed by Iran, calling on the Iranian government to enter into direct negotiations with the United Arab Emirates or recourse to the International Court of Justice to find a peaceful solution to the issue of the islands.
Regarding plans to establish an inter-Arab common market, the final declaration emphasize that "the achievement of Arab economic integration is an integral part of the Arab national security system, including the completion of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area and the achievement of food security initiative Sudan".
It also stresses the need to achieve sustainable development and the optimal utilization of resources and also to narrow the Arab Food gap and future management of financial resources to achieve part Arab water security.
The League of Arab States was created in Cairo on 22 March 1945 by six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan (renamed Jordan in 1949), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Yemen joined as a member on 5 May 1945.
Currently, the League has 22 members, although Syria's participation has been suspended since November 2011, as a consequence of Damascus government repression during the ongoing uprising and civil war.
These members are: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara), which is recognised by some Arab members, and Chad (with nearly one million Arabic-speaking population) are not included as official members.
The total population the Arab countries is estimated to amount to 400 million inhabitants.
Though Islam is the official religion of Arab States, some of them have large Christian population, such as Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Iraq and Syria.
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