Nuke Free Mideast at the Forefront

Nuke Free Mideast at the Forefront
Nuke Free Mideast at the Forefront

A nuclear negotiator said the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) should address efforts to create a Middle East free from nuclear weapons.

"Definitely, the issue of establishing a zone free from nuclear weapons in the Middle East is among the main topics to be pursued at the conference," Hamid Baeidinejad told ISNA on Sunday.

"Unfortunately, the initiative approved by the members in the last edition of the event in 2010 to arrange for a conference on a nuclear weapons-free Middle East to be held in 2012 failed due to the Israeli regime's opposition," he lamented.

"It is a major priority for Non-Aligned Movement member states and Muslim countries to pursue this matter actively in the 2015 edition of the conference."

The 2015 review conference kicked off today and will run until May 22 at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Concerning the US demand that any final deal between Iran and the major powers on Tehran's nuclear program should require Iran to allow broader access to its sites for inspection than what the Additional Protocol has authorized, Baeidinejad said, "Currently, over 100 countries are implementing the regulations of the Additional Protocol."

"What the western countries are after is to get our country to agree to commit itself to some legal obligations, whose implementation has begun in some countries, beyond the Additional Protocol."

“Iran has categorically refused to take on such obligations and believes that its implementation of the Additional Protocol, which will be pursued voluntarily, will give the International Atomic Energy Agency enough access to its facilities” to ensure Tehran’s compliance with the terms of the final accord, he noted.  

The Additional Protocol is a legal document granting the IAEA complementary inspection authority to that provided in underlying safeguards agreements. A principal aim is to enable the IAEA inspectorate to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared nuclear activities of a member state.

Under the protocol, the IAEA is granted expanded rights of access to information and sites. 

Tehran voluntarily signed the Additional Protocol in December 2003 and remained committed to it for over two years, but suspended its implementation after the UN Security Council imposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.

Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif left Tehran on Sunday for New York to attend the conference. A new round of nuclear talks is scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the gathering to continue drafting the final deal, which was started in the most recent round in Vienna last week.