UN Secretary General for nuclear-free Middle East
In a statement released by Mr. Ban on Saturday, he says that he hopes that his efforts to convene such a conference will be supported, first of all, by Russia, the US and the UK, but he calls on all the countries of the Middle East to “constructively cooperate” on this issue.
Mr. Ban believes that the Middle East badly needs to be totally freed from all kinds of mass destruction weapons – nuclear, chemical and biological.
Initially, it was planned that the conference on a nuclear-free Middle East would be held before the end of 2012. The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the decision to postpone the conference will be justified only if all the countries of the Middle East agree to postpone it, and if the conference takes place not later than April 2013.
An international conference on setting up a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East is due to be held before April next year, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs says in a statement.
The Ministry points out that Russia, the UK and the United States have been instructed to organize this kind of conference as the depositaries for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The forthcoming forum will be hosted by Finland, which is currently giving an in-depth consideration to items on the agenda. But Moscow deplores the fact that not all Middle East nations have agreed to attend the conference.
Russia will bend every effort to organize the forum in question, the Foreign Ministry says in a statement.
Talks planned for next month on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East will not take place, the United States said on Friday, a development likely to anger Arab states but please Israel.
The State Department announced that the mid-December conference on creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD, would not occur and did not make clear when, or whether, it would take place.
"As a co-sponsor of the proposed conference... the United States regrets to announce that the conference cannot be convened because of present conditions in the Middle East and the fact that states in the region have not reached agreement on acceptable conditions for a conference," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
The plan for a meeting to lay the groundwork for the possible creation of a WMD-free Middle East was agreed to at a May 2010 conference of 189 parties to the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT.
The United States, feared the conference, which was to be held in Finland, could be used as a forum to bash Israel, a concern likely to have increased after eight days of fierce Israeli-Palestinian fighting that ended with a ceasefire on Wednesday.
Voice of Russia, TASS, Reuters