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Landmark conference agrees steps towards nuclear-free Mid-East

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-29

All 189 signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have backed a declaration calling for talks in 2012 to establish a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, bringing to a close a month-long conference on nuclear disarmament.

AFP - A landmark conference to curb the spread of nuclear weapons agreed Friday on talks toward the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

It was the first agreement in a decade on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which since 1970 has set the global agenda for keeping countries from getting the bomb.

The 28-page final statement calls for holding a conference in 2012 "to be attended by all states of the Middle East, leading to the establishment¨ of a nuclear-free zone.

It also mentions ¨the importance of Israel's accession to the treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards.¨

Iran was not cited despite its defiance of successive UN resolutions calling for the Islamic republic to halt uranium enrichment and be more transparent about its suspect nuclear program.

Egypt and Iran have led calls for Israel to join the NPT, which would mean the Jewish state would have to give up its nuclear arsenal and to agree to a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.

Israel, which opposes creating a zone until Middle East peace has been achieved, has never acknowledged that it has nuclear weapons.

Egyptian ambassador Maged Abdelaziz praised the NPT conference for "putting into action an effective process to implement the 1995 resolution on the Middle East," which first called for the zone.

No countries objected to the adoption of an action plan which includes moves towards disarmament, verification of nuclear programs worldwide to be sure they are peaceful, promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy and talks on a zone.

Date created : 2010-05-29

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