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28 May, 2010 23:54

Deal reached on nuclear weapons in the Middle East

The United Nations month-long conference on the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty ended May 28 with a unanimously adopted declaration.

The 28-page declaration signed by all 189 signatories contains a 22-point action plan. The plan includes an agreement to establish a nuclear free Middle East, specifically calling out Israel.

“The declaration is calling on Israel to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to place all of its nuclear facilities under comprehensive safeguards of the IAEA,”said RT Correspondent Marina Portnaya.

It is only assumed that Israel has nuclear weapons, as they have never formally admitted to having a nuclear stockpile.

“It [Israel] doesn’t have the obligations of talking about the kinds of potential nuclear weapons it has,” said Portnaya.

The declaration is not international law, not a Security Council resolution and is not directly enforceable. Israel is not bound to adhere to the declaration, but is being called upon by the 189 signatories to do so.

The declaration is also calling for a 2012 conference that focuses on a nuclear-free Middle East and requires the attendance of all Middle East nations. Some Israeli government leaders have already expressed reluctance to attend because the declaration targets them specifically.

In addition to Israel the declaration also specifically names North Korea, urging the nation to return to six party talks “as soon as possible,” said Portnaya.

“It is urging North Korea to abandon any kind of nuclear arms ambitions that it has and its nuclear programs and come back to the table and have some dialogue with the international community,” Portnaya said.

Iran, on the other hand, was not singled out in the UN declaration.

The conference is being measured as a success because the last time the conference took place, five years ago, it ended without an agreement. 

However, some are skeptical that this new declaration will change the situation in the Middle East. Paul Saunders, Executive Director of the Nixon Center, thinks officially pointing the finger at Israel will not make it reconsider its position.

“They condemn proposals for a nuclear-free Middle East for a long time. Everyone has known for a long time that it was directed at Israel. This year at the conference Israel was specifically mentioned. I’m sure for diplomats it’s a very exciting development, but I don’t expect it to have any significant implications beyond that.”