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NEW YORK CITY: Member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council pledged on Monday to work together “and spare no effort” to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, while acknowledging that it will take the “will policy” of all parties.

They also underlined “the legitimate right of States to peaceful uses of nuclear energy”, in accordance with the objectives of the historic United Nations Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970, and called for full access to this technology, without obligations additional.

Through its three pillars – preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, destroying existing nuclear arsenals and promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy – the NPT has been the cornerstone of global non-proliferation efforts for more than a half-century.

Speaking on behalf of the GCC countries, Abdulaziz Alwasil, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, expressed concern about “continued clandestine nuclear activities in the Middle East” and the fact that there are “certain nuclear installations which are not controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

This, he said, is a “disservice to the goal of” achieving a nuclear-free Middle East, “will weaken efforts to build confidence” and “threaten peace and security. international and regional.

Alwasil was speaking at the third session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, which was established in 2018 by an Assembly resolution General of the United Nations.

A resolution on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East was adopted at a NPT review conference in 1995 and further developed in 2010. Alwasil said the results of these two review conferences stand ” the main reference to achieve the ultimate goal of establishing free zone in the Middle East.

Israel, a nuclear power, is not a party to the NPT. Iran is a signatory, but the IAEA has for months worried about the removal of the agency’s monitoring equipment from Iranian nuclear facilities and the blocking of access to key sites in the country where uranium enrichment would have occurred.

Just three days ago, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany asked the board of directors of the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, to adopt a resolution reflecting the “essential and urgent” need for Iran to explain why traces of uranium were found at three sites that were declared part of its nuclear research, Reuters reported.

The draft text of the resolution also notes that the council “expresses deep concern that safeguards issues related to three undeclared locations remain outstanding due to insufficient substantial cooperation from Iran.” .

Alwasil stressed the importance of ensuring that all nuclear facilities are subject to the IAEA safeguards regime “to ensure that no unannounced nuclear activity takes place in the region”.

Later, speaking on behalf of his own country, Alwasil said that Saudi Arabia had worked with “fraternal Arab countries to issue a General Assembly resolution calling for a meeting that will lead to a legally binding instrument to establish a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery”.

He added, “My country supports all efforts to establish such a free zone in the Middle East, and our cooperation with countries in the region to achieve this desired goal.

“The establishment of confidence-building measures and good neighborliness are important pillars for establishing such a region and bringing regional peace and security.”

Reiterating the importance of ensuring the political will to achieve this goal, Alwasil said: “The continuation of clandestine nuclear activities in the Middle East, as well as nuclear installations outside the supervision of the IAEA. would not serve the purpose of establishing such a free zone. Rather, it will lead to threats to international peace and security.

He added: “The challenges facing the Middle East require concerted efforts to defuse and build trust and express goodwill among all countries in the region, to ensure peaceful coexistence and achieve development and prosperity for all. all peoples.

“Keeping Israeli nuclear facilities out of IAEA oversight, as well as other clandestine nuclear activities, requires us to ensure that they are for peaceful purposes and that is a real concern.

“We must guarantee the peaceful nature of all nuclear activities in the region as a first step towards achieving our main objective, which is the creation of a free zone in the Middle East.”

Alwasil said that Saudi Arabia, which has actively participated in the two previous conferences on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, welcomes an exchange of ideas and expertise on the legal framework to discuss this issue.

He also called for an exchange of ideas with countries that have already succeeded in achieving WMD-free zone targets in their regions, including in Africa, Latin America and Asia.