Creating new perspectives since 2009

Egypt protests Israel's inaction on proposals for a WMD free Middle East

February 8, 2014 at 2:46 pm

On Monday, Egypt withdrew from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) talks being held in Geneva asserting that a number of countries were not seriously acting to establish a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

In a statement issued on Monday, Egypt’s foreign ministry said that it had ended its participation in two week long talks being held in Geneva out of frustration that the nuclear free zone has yet to be created. It feels that Israel is not taking the issue seriously.

In 1995, Arabs backed the treaty’s permanent extension hoping that all countries in the region would work on making the Middle East, including Israel, free of nuclear weapons. Israel has an undisclosed nuclear arsenal.

Fifteen years after this first treaty, in 2010 Egypt suggested launching new negotiations to reach the agreed upon goal.

On Monday, Egypt said that talks had as yet to begin as both members and non-members of the NPT were “obstructing” the goal; it then announced its withdrawal from the talks. In this way, Egypt hoped to send a message to the world that it no longer accepts the lack of seriousness on the issue.

“We cannot wait forever for the implementation of this decision,” the statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

The NPT was signed in 1970 and was adopted by 190 nations. Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea did not sign it. North Korea ratified it in 1985 and withdrew in 2003 when the US claimed that it had violated the treaty and begun enriching uranium.

Iran is a member of the NPT and is accused by the US, a number of Western countries and Israel of enriching uranium for military purposes, but it insists that it is doing so merely for peaceful uses.

Israel is believed to have a massive nuclear arsenal and so has been refusing to ratify the treaty or take part in talks on making the Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

US officials argue that a Middle East free of nuclear weapons is not viable before reaching full peace between Israel and the Arabs and putting deterrent restrictions on the Iran nuclear programme.

Egypt’s Assistant Foreign Minister, Hisham Badr, told the Geneva conference on April 22, the first day of the conference, that “The history of this issue … has been one of unfulfilled commitment.”

Egypt and the other Arab countries joined the treaty under the understanding that it would bring an end to Israeli nuclear weapons.