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article imageOp-Ed: U.S. cancels conference on nuclear-free Middle East

By Ken Hanly     Nov 25, 2012 in Politics
Helsinki - The U.S. has announced that a proposed conference on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East will not be held at this time because of the unstable conditions in the area.
Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the State Department that the U.S. will continue to try to generate conditions that could result in a successful conference. She said that political turmoil in the region and Iran's position on the issue of non-proliferation contributed to the decision. Nuland did not mention the fact that Israel would not participate in the planned conference, because of positions taken by Arab countries Presumably Arab countries, and Iran as well, want Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.
Nuland says that the U.S. supports the goal of a Middle East that was free of weapons of mass destruction but insisted a conference must discuss broad areas of regional security and there should be some sort of consensus among participants as to how to approach the conference. Given those conditions, it would seem that the U.S. supports the goal but does not support any realistic moves to achieve the reality.
The conference had been planned for Helsinki, Finland before the end of 2012. Key sponsors of the conference had insisted that all countries participate. Israel is the only country in the area that has nuclear weapons. No doubt the real reason that the conference was cancelled was Israel's refusal to attend. The u.S. would not come out and say this, because it could easily be taken as a criticism of Israel,
Plans for the conference followed on an earlier conference this month in Brussels. Both Israeli and Iranian officials took part in that conference. The press described the conference as academic, although some officials from both Iran and Israel were present. The discussions were designed to determine if a conference on creating a WMD-free zone in the Middle East was possible. Jaakko Laajava, a Finnish diplomat was given the task by the UN of organizing the conference in Helsinki.
The meeting was said to lack any fireworks or denunciations from either side. Yet it seems that Israel has decided it will not take any further steps towards meeting again at this time, No doubt the upcoming Israeli elections could play a part in that decision.
Although it is well known that Israel has nuclear weapons, Israel's official position is neither to affirm or deny that it has a nuclear arsenal. Perhaps this is where the Obama administration got its idea for the official position on drones. The CIA will neither affirm or deny the drone program exists. This just shows that in international politics, nonsense can be useful.
Israel has said that it would consider signing the Non-Proliferation Treating renouncing its right to nuclear weapons if its security and right to exist were guaranteed by its Arab neighbours and if the region was at peace, These seem conditions that are unlikely to happen any time soon.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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