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* The reply was received after the submission of the main report.
2. As a State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and a signatory to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty), Egypt has clearly and unambiguously demonstrated its rejection of the nuclear option, since it represents a major threat to peace, security and stability in the Middle East. Today, Egypt notes that while all States of the Middle East have become parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Israel regrettably persists in ignoring repeated calls for its adherence to the Treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, thereby perpetuating a dangerous imbalance in the region.
3. The importance given during the 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East is a testimony to the commitment of the international community to the establishment of such a zone. The 2000 Review Conference, in following up the resolution on the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty, unanimously reaffirmed, in its final document, the importance of the accession of Israel to the Treaty and placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. Indeed, in its final document, the 2000 Review Conference:
5. For a nuclear-weapon-free zone to come about in any area of the world, there must exist a regional commitment to this objective. As is testified to by the annual adoption of a consensus resolution on the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone by the General Assembly, and by the adoption of consensus guidelines on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among States of the region concerned, by the Disarmament Commission at its 1999 substantive session, such a commitment is present in the Middle East. In this connection, Egypt notes with satisfaction that there is agreement that the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and the development of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction should be encouraged. Egypt considers that it is imperative that those commitments be turned into concrete actions if they are to have a determining and positive impact on the Middle East peace process.
6. However, and while Egypt continues to table its annual resolution entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East”, it cannot help but notice that the resolution’s adoption by consensus is not complemented by an equally consensual commitment to its implementation. Indeed, not all of the States Members of the United Nations seem committed to acting effectively with a view to ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons. Few concrete steps, if any, have been taken with the aim of realizing the objectives of the resolution. This situation endures despite the international community’s invigorated commitment to the cause of non-proliferation in the world following the criminal and tragic events of 11 September 2001.
7. Making negotiations on a Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone contingent upon an ever-growing list of prerequisites is a sure recipe for failure. In Egypt’s view, the only prerequisite for negotiations to commence on the establishment of a zone in the Middle East is that States in the region have the political will to sit together and commence negotiations. Viewing the Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone as no more than an act that “sets the seal on a durable peace” is not a vision that is shared by Egypt. A Middle East nuclear-weapon-free zone is, in and of itself, an important confidence-building measure and an act of political reconciliation. Furthermore, maintaining that fully fledged relations of peace must exist before talks on such a zone can commence, while at the same time persisting to maintain a nuclear option, are two mutually exclusive and contradictory arguments. In a region as volatile as the Middle East, no solid and durable peace can be achieved while a nuclear threat continues to loom over the region.
8. The international community has given much attention to recent cases of proliferation concern, sometimes seeking new approaches, and always devoting significant resources to the task. Yet, Israel escapes similar attention, and is subjected to little more than lukewarm verbal calls for adherence to the Treaty and application of IAEA safeguards.
9. Egypt will continue to pursue the objective of establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East at the earliest date, based on the outcome of the 2000 Review Conference. It will also pursue its April 1990 initiative for the establishment, in the Middle East, of a zone free from all weapons of mass destruction. In its endeavours, it will continue to seek the support of the international community and of all those who are committed to ridding the world, both at the regional and global levels, of the threat of nuclear weapons. In this regard, the following developments have taken place since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 58/34:
(a) On 10 and 11 July 2004, Annalisa Giannella, the Personal Representative on non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction of the Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, visited Cairo for bilateral talks. The talks addressed arms control and non-proliferation issues with regard to the Middle East and possible means for progress on these issues in the region and within the Barcelona process;
(b) On 15 August 2004, the Director General of IAEA visited Cairo and met with the Foreign Minister of Egypt. The Director General outlined the possibility, pursuant to the Presidential Statement endorsed by the IAEA General Conference on 22 September 2000, of convening a forum in which participants from the Middle East and other interested parties could learn from the experience of other regions, including in the area of confidence-building relevant to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The Foreign Minister indicated the acceptance of Egypt, in principle, of such a proposal. The report of the Director General to the General Conference of the IAEA at its forty-eighth session (GC (48)/18) outlined the intent of the Director General, based on consultations carried out by him and the secretariat, to organize such a forum;
(c) At its 122nd ordinary session at the ministerial level, held in Cairo on 14 September 2004, the Council of the League of Arab States adopted resolution 6445, in which it took note of the progress by its technical subcommittee in drafting a treaty establishing a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone in the Middle East, and requested the technical subcommittee to continue to carry out its mandate with a view to completing the draft treaty at the earliest possible date.