Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Preliminary framework drafted for nuclear weapons-free zone in Middle East

The chairman of the Egyptian Council of Foreign Affairs presented a draft proposal for security in the region.

VIENNA // Mohammed Shaker, ambassador and chairman of the Egyptian council of foreign affairs, has drafted a preliminary framework of an agreement that could pave the way for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

“I believe that the time has come to think aloud about a real and vibrant zone and identify the challenges and opportunities ahead,” his paper reads. “I would like to highlight technical elements of the work ahead as a means of providing confidence to all states and initiating a meaningful dialogue on regional security.”

A nuclear weapon-free zone is an agreement among states not to develop or deploy weapons and declare themselves weapons-free.

Although the initial proposal for such a zone dates to 1974, Mr Shaker’s plan, which takes in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, was submitted last November.

It includes members of the Arab League, Israel and Iran.

“Without the presence of Israel and Iran it would not be possible to reach such an arrangement in the Middle East,” he said.

The six elements of the proposal name parties to the zone, weapons banned, main undertakings of the parties to a region free of WMD, the need for a regional verification organisation, security assurances and peaceful nuclear cooperation.

Non-Proliferation Treaty states would be asked for security assurances, including a guarantee that they would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.

“And a positive security assurance would be a guarantee that nuclear weapon states will come to the aid of non-nuclear weapon states if they are attacked by another nuclear weapon state,” Mr Shaker said.

But political obstacles remain.

“It is in my conviction that precisely through the process of discussion of these technicalities, political will and greater understanding of each side’s considerations can be created,” he said. “It is for this reason that I advocate an immediate commencement on such a project.”

The GCC has made a proposal to declare itself a nuclear weapons-free zone but it was not pursued.

cmalek@thenational.ae

Updated: June 24, 2014 04:00 AM

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