Saudi Arabia urges in New York conference freeing Middle East from nuclear weapons

Kingdom says failure to press Israel into disarming nuclear weapons would lead to further risks posed against stability in the region

IAEA includes Israel’s nuclear arms on agenda for coming meeting

EU says sanctions on Iran are imminent

Israel brandishes war on Iran

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has underlined the importance of keeping the Middle East Region free from nuclear weapons and said stability and security never come through acquisition of weapons of mass-destruction, but they come through cooperation and exerting efforts for realizing development and progress.

Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudeiry, the Plenipotentiary Minister at the Saudi Foreign Ministry and Head of the Kingdom's delegation to the conference on 'Revision of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of the nuclear weapons, currently in progress in New York, said the NPT constitutes the major pillar for preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons, adding that the international community should work for internationalization of the NPT through exerting all possible efforts for reaching an agreement for realizing the goal of admission of countries which have not yet signed the treaty to it unconditionally and to put their nuclear facilities under the system of comprehensive guarantees of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he said noting that failure to put pressure on Israel to sign the treaty will endanger the stability of the Middle East and may pave the way for the nuclear race.

'The Saudi government would like to reiterate the contents of its report about measures that will contribute to make the Middle East free from nuclear weapons presented by it at the preparatory meeting held in Geneva.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would like to confirm the importance of making the Middle East free from nuclear weapons in line with the decision of the UN's General Assembly in 1974.

However, the acquisition of Israel of nuclear weapons constitutes a major obstacle for realizing peace and stability in the Middle East.

We hope that this conference will ask the director general of IAEA to follow up the implementation of the decision pertaining to Israeli nuclear capability, issued last September, and that should be coincided with reducing the technical programs that are extended to Israel in the nuclear field until its admission to the NPT of nuclear weapons,' Al-Sudeiry said.

He noted that the Kingdom, for the sake of realizing global peace and stability, has proved its commitment to the treaty of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and submitted its report in this respect.

'Moreover, Saudi Arabia is planning to organize a regional workshop for the activation of the decision through cooperation with the concerned Security Council's Committee at the UN,' Al-Sudeiry said.

The Kingdom has recently approved the agreement of guarantees with IAEA through confirming the right of treaty's parties to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, he added.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has issued a decision for the establishment of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) in the Kingdom to undertake supervision of the peaceful purposes for the nuclear energy, and this city will be the concerned authority for meeting national commitments towards all agreements signed or may be signed by the Kingdom pertaining to atomic and renewable energy.

As regards the Iranian nuclear issue, Al-Sudeiry said the Saudi government has been following up with a great concern the stumbling negotiations between group 5+1 and Iran about Iranian nuclear program.

He underscored the importance of encouraging the Iranian side to continue cooperation with the IAEA for making the Middle East Region, free from weapons of mass -destruction, adding that this goal can never be realized without cooperation and transference.

The Saudi government hopes that Iran will continue its constructive cooperation and go ahead in this direction with the aim of realizing security and stability in the region, he said.

Al-Sudeiry expressed appreciation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the success of the nuclear summit held in Washington and supports its final communiqué and working plan, he said.

He said getting rid of nuclear weapons is the guarantee for prevention of their usage or threatening to use them. ‘Moreover, fears of the countries which do not have nuclear weapons, should also be taken into account in the light of state of instability in the Middle East and dangers caused by the recent events in the region through preparation of an international document that guarantees the safety and stability of these countries,' he concluded.

In Vienna, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog is asking for international input on how to persuade Israel to join the Nonproliferation Treaty, in a move that is sure to add to pressure on the Jewish state to disclose its unacknowledged nuclear arsenal.

In a letter made available Wednesday, Yukiya Amano asked foreign ministers of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 151 member states to share views on how to implement a resolution demanding that Israel "accede to the" Nonproliferation Treaty and throw its nuclear facilities open to IAEA oversight.

The letter was shared with The Associated Press amid renewed Arab criticism of Israel during an international conference at U.N. headquarters in New York. Islamic nations used the second day of the nonproliferation meeting Tuesday to call for a nuclear-free Middle East, while criticizing Israel for not divulging its nuclear capabilities and refusing to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

Egypt has proposed that this 2010 Nonproliferation Treaty conference back a plan calling for the start of negotiations next year on a Mideast free of nuclear arms. The proposal may become a major debating point in the month-long session.

The U.S. has cautiously supported the idea while saying that implementing it must wait for progress in the Middle East peace process. Israel also says a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement must come first.

Amano's April 7 letter comes seven months after IAEA member states at their annual conference narrowly passed a resolution directly criticizing Israel and its atomic program, with 49 of the 110 nations present backing the document, 45 against and 16 abstaining.

The result was a setback not only for Israel but also for Washington and other backers of the Jewish state, which had lobbied for 18 years of past practice — debate on the issue without a vote. It also reflected building tensions between Israel and its backers and Islamic nations, supported by developing countries.

The resolution "expresses concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities," and links it to "concern about the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons for the security and stability of the Middle East."

The U.S. and its allies consider Iran the region's greatest proliferation threat, fearing that Tehran is trying to achieve the capacity to make nuclear weapons despite its assertion that it is only building a civilian program to generate power.

But Islamic nations insist that Israel is the true danger in the Middle East, saying they fear its nuclear weapons capacity. Israel has never said it has such arms, but is universally believed to possess them.

The Muslim countries enjoy support from developing nations.

These are critical of the U.S. and other nuclear weapons nations for refusing to disarm, and suspects that developed nations are trying to corner the market on peaceful nuclear technology to their disadvantage — themes likely to surface not only at the now ongoing Nonproliferation Treaty conference, but at the next IAEA general conference in September.

With divisions deep on Israel, Amano's letter asking IAEA member states for input on the issue foreshadowed intense feuding at that September conference.

"It would be helpful to me if Your Excellency could inform me of any views that your government might have with respect to meeting the objectives of the resolution," according to his half-page letter.

A senior diplomat from one of the IAEA member countries confirmed that his government had received the letter. He and an official from another IAEA delegation said that to their knowledge the agency was still awaiting responses. Both asked for anonymity because their information was confidential.

A new round of United Nations sanctions against Iran could be adopted very rapidly, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday.

Ashton said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers that the EU was open to more talks with Iran to end a stand-off over its nuclear programme, provided Tehran showed a real willingness for dialogue.

"We are supporting the process of the (U.N.) Security Council on new restrictive measures and I believe a proposal will be adopted very rapidly," she told a news conference. "I anticipate we'll be talking about the next four to six weeks, though I can't be certain at this stage."

European diplomats have said mid-June is a target deadline for getting a fourth round of sanctions passed by the United States and its European partners to increase pressure on Iran.

Discussions have been under way for months on how to force Tehran to re-engage in talks on a fuel swap the West regards as a way to minimize the risk of Tehran deriving nuclear weapons from its uranium enrichment programme.

Iran says the programme is only for electricity generation.

"We want, of course, to keep the door open for negotiations," Ashton said. "It has always been described as a twin-track approach."

Ashton was scheduled to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu later on Monday in Brussels.

Turkey, one of the 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, is opposed to further sanctions against Iran and has repeatedly resisted EU attempts to shift its position.

But it has offered to mediate between the West and Iran.

On the other hand, a deputy to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel is primed for a war on Iran, in a rare break with his government's reticence as world powers try to talk Tehran into curbing its nuclear plans.

By spearheading assaults on guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon and Palestinian territories, the Israeli air force had gained the techniques necessary for any future strikes on Iranian sites, Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said.

"There is no doubt that the technological capabilities, which improved in recent years, have improved range and aerial refueling capabilities, and have brought about a massive improvement in the accuracy of ordnance and intelligence," he told a conference of military officers and experts.

"This capability can be used for a war on terror in Gaza, for a war in the face of rockets from Lebanon, for war on the conventional Syrian army, and also for war on a peripheral state like Iran," said Yaalon, a former armed forces chief.

Israel, which is assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 and launched a similar sortie in Syria in 2007.

But its veiled threats against foe Iran have been questioned by some independent analysts who see the potential targets as too distant, dispersed, numerous and well-defended for Israeli warplanes to take on alone.

Israel's leaders rarely use the term "war" while publicly discussing how to deal with Iran, in whose often secretive uranium enrichment, long-range missile projects and hostile rhetoric the Jewish state sees a mortal threat.

Officially endorsing efforts by U.N. Security Council powers to step up sanctions against Tehran, which denies having hostile designs, Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials usually speak obliquely of a need to "keep all options on the table."

Two other senior Israeli officials said U.S.-led diplomatic pressure should be given a chance. But they voiced misgivings.

"I believe that, by the middle of June, there will be international sanctions that will be watered down, with very low chances of being effective," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told a closed-door parliamentary committee, according to a spokesman.

"With that said, there is nevertheless importance to such sanctions, because the delay has only served Iran," he said, adding: "It is very possible that there will be other, more effective sanctions by a specific set of European countries."

Dan Meridor -- another deputy prime minister who, like Yaalon and Barak, belongs to Netanyahu's inner council -- sought to play down Israel's particular interest in having Iran reined in, calling it a global challenge.

"If in the end of the day, Iran does get nuclear, in spite of what America says and wants, this will have grave implications for world order, the balance of power and the rules of the game," Meridor told foreign journalists in Jerusalem.

In his address to the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies, Yaalon said Israel was in a proxy war with Iran due to its sponsorship of Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas and the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.

"There is no doubt, looking at the overall situation, that we are already in a military confrontation with Iran," he said. "Iran is the main motivator of those attacking us."