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Hope For A WMD-Free Middle East

Map of Middle East
Map of Middle East

Regional countries must agree on the purpose and scope of a conference.

Addressing the postponement of a conference on the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement, “The United States fully supports the goal of a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction and we stand by our commitments.”

Hope For A WMD-Free Middle East
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The conference, planned for December, was delayed due to the current state of affairs in the Middle East and the fact that the countries in the area have not agreed upon conditions for the conference, wrote Ms. Nuland.

The conference was designed to enable dialogue on building a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction. The postponement of the conference was noted by the United States Government as well as others, including the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, that encouraged and supported the event.

“The United States,” wrote Ms. Nuland, “believes that a deep conceptual gap persists in the region on approaches toward regional security and arms control arrangements. These differences can only be bridged through direct engagement and agreement among the states in the region. Outside states cannot impose a process on the region any more than they can dictate an outcome.”

Although current conditions do not allow for the convening of this conference, the United States Government will continue to encourage and support the necessary dialogue and preparations for this event to occur.

To have this conference, however, regional countries must “agree on the purpose and scope of a conference and on an agenda and process that takes into account the legitimate security interests of all states in the region,” wrote Ms. Nuland. “We believe that this conference should discuss a broad agenda that covers regional security and all WMD issues, and that it must operate solely on the basis of consensus among regional parties.”

If the conference is eventually convened, it must allow all participants to have an equal footing. “We would not support a conference in which any regional state would be subject to pressure or isolation,” wrote Spokesperson Nuland.

The U.S. considers the region’s full compliance with arms control and non-proliferation obligations and a true and lasting peace in the Middle East to be necessary precursors for the establishment of a regional zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.