UNSC to weigh nuclear arms ban in ME
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council, at the request of Arab nations, will meet on Monday to discuss a Syrian draft resolution calling for the Middle East to rid itself of all nuclear, biological and chemical arms.
Arab diplomats said they sought the meeting after the council earlier this week issued a statement welcoming Libya’s announcement that it was voluntarily abandoning its programs for developing weapons of mass destruction. But they said the draft was clearly aimed at Israel, widely believed to be the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear weapons though it has never officially acknowledged possessing them.
“It is well known that Israel is the only country in the region that maintains nuclear weapons and capabilities,” said one Arab diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. Syria, whose two-year term on the 15-nation council expires at midnight on Wednesday, was pushing for the measure’s adoption to crown its council membership, Arab diplomats said.
But it was unclear whether the council would proceed to a vote on the draft before the end of the year or merely discuss it, council diplomats said. “We’ll discuss it in consultations,” a Syrian diplomat told Reuters. “It is premature at this time to predict the outcome of the consultations.”
Syrian Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad requested the council meeting in a Dec. 24 letter. In light of the council’s interest in eliminating weapons of mass destruction as evidenced by its statement on Libya, “the government of the Syrian Arab Republic believes that it is high time for the Security Council to act on this matter,” Mekdad’s letter said. The draft calls for implementation of two previous resolutions “aimed at freeing the Middle East region of all weapons of mass destruction” and urges the region’s governments to sign on to a series of treaties aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical arms. —Reuters