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3. The issue of the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East remains important. It is recalled that at the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, held in Geneva from 28 April to 9 May 2008, States parties reiterated their support for the establishment of a zone in the Middle East free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, reaffirmed the importance of the implementation of the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference and recognized that the resolution remained valid until its goals and objectives were achieved. Furthermore, the League of Arab States reiterated its call upon the international community to take effective practical steps to that end.
4. The Secretary-General has continued to carry out various consultations with concerned parties within and outside the region in order to explore further ways and means of promoting the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.
5. The Secretary-General underlines that efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace continue to be needed. He hopes that the Middle East peace process will move forward, building on the developments in the past year, including the international conference held in Annapolis, Maryland, United States of America in November 2007, the resumption of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and other relevant trends, and within the framework of the road map developed by the Quartet of the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United States of America and the United Nations. He welcomes the constructive role played by the League of Arab States. The Secretary-General calls upon all concerned parties within and outside the region to resume dialogue with a view to creating stable security conditions and an eventual settlement that would facilitate the process of establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The Secretary-General reiterates the continued readiness of the United Nations to provide any assistance deemed helpful in that regard.
III. Replies received from Governments
9. The statements made by the Prime Minister of Israel on 12 December 2006, admitting that Israel is a nuclear-weapon State, are of grave concern. Israel’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities represents a threat to the security of neighbouring States and to peace in the region, which is already in turmoil. The occupation of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq and the threats against the Islamic Republic of Iran by the United States of America, and particularly that country’s new “National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction”, which for the first time envisages the use of nuclear weapons to respond to an enemy attack with conventional weapons, not only hinder the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, but also jeopardize the zones already established and affect the credibility of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
10. In view of the critical situation now prevailing in the Middle East, Cuba reaffirms the ongoing responsibility of the United Nations, including the Security Council, with respect to peace and security in the region, including the solution of the question of Palestine.
5. Japan is firmly committed to supporting the Middle East peace process, considering that it should be the key to regional stability, which is a vital factor in establishing the conditions for a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. Based on the recognition that the only way to achieve peace in the Middle East is through the realization of peaceful coexistence between the two nations of Israel and Palestine, Japan has been making its utmost efforts to that end. In particular, Japan has been engaging in the following measures:
(a) Using its neutral position of favouring neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians, Japan maintains high-level political dialogue with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to encourage them to advance the peace process. For instance, following the visit of the then Foreign Minister, Taro Aso, to Israel and the Palestinian territories in August 2007, the Government of Japan invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Japan in February 2008, in order to support his commitment to making every effort to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians before the end of 2008;
(b) In the economic sphere, Japan has been actively involved in assisting the Palestinians since the Oslo Accords of 1993. As of March 2008, Japan has disbursed a total of more than $938 million in assistance to the Palestinians, and is committed to extending a further $150 million, which was pledged at the international donors’ conference for the Palestinian State held in Paris in December 2007;
(c) The Government of Japan has actively been initiating and sponsoring various projects that will contribute to confidence-building between the Israelis and the Palestinians. In addition to that, Japan, based on its efforts in the fields mentioned above, proposed and is steadily promoting, in cooperation with Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, an initiative to create the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” in an area of the Jordan Valley for the purpose of creating a further viable Palestinian State.