New York City, 30 November 2021 (TDI): The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres called for the nuclear-weapons-free Middle East zone on 29 November. He mentioned that all Middle East states need to transform their region with no nuclear weapons. Along with no weapons of mass destruction. Secretary-General was speaking at the second session of the “Conference on the establishment of a middle east free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction” in New York.
Since 1967, five such zones have been established around the world. It includes Latin America, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa along Central Asia. They include 60 percent of all UN Member States. It covers almost all of the Southern Hemisphere.
Antonio Guterres mentioned expanding nuclear-weapon-free zone would help build a safer world. He mentioned in the middle east there are concerns over nuclear programs. Moreover, the conflicts and civil wars cause widespread civilian causalities. Consequently, it is undermining the stability of the region. Moreover disrupting social and economic development.
The UN chief also reiterated his call for all parties to exercise restraint and avoid escalation. Antonio Guterres highlighted the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It is known commonly as Iran Nuclear Deal. He mentioned that the return to dialogue is “an important step.”
The JCPOA was signed by Iran alongside the European Union and five permanent members of the Security Council. It includes China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, in May 2018, Washington withdrew under the Trump administration. Moreover, the talks about Iran’s nuclear program along with the revival of the JCPOA, have resumed this week in Vienna.
For the UN chief, @antonioguterres, a #MiddleEast with no nuclear weapons would deescalate regional arms races and free much needed resources to tackle major challenges, including #COVID, #ClimateChange and the #SDGs. https://t.co/lyLUmAdS11
— UN News (@UN_News_Centre) November 30, 2021
Antonio Guterres mentioned, “All parties must ensure this valuable instrument remains effective”. Moreover, he stressed the positive consequences of the Middle East being free of nuclear weapons would extend beyond nuclear control. The UN Chief mentioned that it will strengthen the international bans on chemical and biological weapons. Moreover, It will build trust and reduce tensions. Consequently, it will prevent conflicts and human suffering. He also stressed that it will deescalate regional arms races. As well, the resources will be channeled to tackle major challenges. For instance, COVID-19, climate change, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Catastrophic global consequences
The President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, also addressed the Conference. He pointed out some progress as the entry into force of the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”. The renewal of the START treaty between the United States and Russia, moreover the ongoing talks on the JCPOA.
Abdulla Shahid mentioned that the Member States’ destructive capacity “has reached new extremes”. Many countries are continuing to invest, innovate. Moreover, they are building this type of weapon. He mentioned that every minor geopolitical squabble could trigger catastrophic global consequences.
It is estimated that some 15,000 nuclear weapons exist in the world. For the first time, in 1974 The General Assembly mandated the nuclear weapons-free Middle East.
Abdulla Shahid argued the geopolitics of this part of the world is complex. Therefore any settlements will require sound diplomacy along with the negotiations based on good faith.
“The addition of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to the region’s politics will complicate an already challenging process. It undermines trust and portending existential consequences”, he argued.
Finally, the President of the General Assembly noted that not enough states have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) even after twenty-five years of its adoption. He also pointed to the “10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”. It will take place in New York in January 2022. This is an opportunity to renew commitments.