'Danger' of regional arms race after Egypt’s withdrawal from the NPT – UK MP

Jeremy Corbyn, a British MP and vice chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament told RT that Egypt’s withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is extremely serious and may lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

RT:What are the ramifications of this move by Egypt?

James Corbyn: Absolutely huge, I was in Geneva last week for the non-proliferation treaty review conference and listened with great interest to the opening statement by the Egyptian ambassador and he made a very strong statement concerning Egypt’s wish to live in a nuclear weapons free Middle East and the failure of the leadership of the NPT to act on the 1995 decision for a nuclear free Middle East, the dilatory behavior towards setting up the Helsinki conference, which was due last December and never happened and there’s now no date or venue fixed for the review of it. This conference was designed to include all nations in the region, including Israel to discuss a nuclear weapons free Middle East and it’s out of frustration that Egypt seems to have withdrawn. But instead one should have some respect for Egypt in this, because in 1981 when they joined the NPT, they made the point that they wanted to live in a nuclear free Middle East and the meantime Israel has got now over 200 nuclear warheads and as they are apparently about to take delivery of a submarine system that could give them a means of delivery. Never mind a land based [system]; they would have a sea based system as well.

RT:Israel neither confirmed nor denied as we know. Why hasn’t it confirmed whatever it’s got, whatever nuclear weapons it’s got over the years? Why is not coming clean about it?

JC: They’ve never signed any of the treaties relating to disarmament or nuclear weapons testing or anything else and they’ve never officially admitted it. We first learnt of the many suspicions people had about Israelis nuclear facilities, when the Dimona reactor was developed apparently to produce weapons grade uranium. When Mordechai Vanunu told the rest of the world when Israel was developing nuclear weapons and Mordechai Vanunu spent nearly 2 decades in prison as a result of that, including 13 years in solitary confinement and is still under restriction in Israel as a result of telling the world the truth. I think that this shows that the USA continues to fund Israel to a massive extent and Israel, without being a member of the NPT, appears to have almost a veto over its actions in trying to develop a middle east free of nuclear weapons.

RT: Are we anywhere near approaching some sort of nuclear arms race starting up, now that Egypt’s walked out of the talks?

JC: This is the terrible danger of this situation. Israel we know has nuclear weapons and has the land based system to deliver them and could have a sea based system. Any country in the region that has a nuclear power system, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia all could develop their own nuclear weapons if they wish to and Egypt I hope doesn’t develop nuclear weapons. I hope nobody develops nuclear weapons, but clearly the danger now is a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with all the terrible consequences that that could bring about if ever they should be used. We need urgent action now particularly by the USA and the other 4 declared nuclear weapons states to take steps for their own disarmament but above all, to hastily convene this Middle East nuclear weapons conference.

RT:And what should Israel be doing?

JC: Israel should decommission its nuclear weapons, join the NPT and get on board with the rest of the world in trying to develop a nuclear weapons free world.

RT:Let me put it another way. Is there anything that could make Israel do that, because its not going to do it unless its pressured I guess?

JC: Israel depends very heavily on trade with the EU and military aid from the United States. The EU and the US working together are in the position to put the most enormous pressure on Israel, either through sanctions or withdrawing aid or lifting the trade agreement, which also has a human right’s clause within it. We need action urgently by those two key players in this situation.