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Russia calls for conference on Middle East zone free from mass destruction weapons

May 17, 2015, 9:32 updated at: May 17, 2015, 9:41 UTC+3 UN
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UN, May 17. /TASS/. Russia suggests organising before March 1, 2016 an international conference on establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction, head of the Foreign Ministry's department on arms control, Mikhail Ulyanov said on Friday.

He said Russia distributed a document on this initiative at the conference at the United Nations on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

He said organisation of a zone of the kind was fixed in the 1995 resolution on the Middle East, which was adopted at the conference on NPT. "Here, at the conference, a group of Arab countries suggested a new mandate [conference] - quite a radical suggestion. It did not have changes for a consensus. We have decided to take the initiative and distributed a document with our vision of what a renewed mandate should be like."

Russia has considered "the bitter experience of the recent five years" and presented "a new approach" to organisation of the forum.

"The approach is that not the UN secretary general [Ban Ki-moon] and the three founders - Russia, the U.S. and the UK, but only the secretary general organises the conference no later than March 1, 2016," the diplomat said. "And if this decision is approved here, it will be final, not subject to appeal, and the term will not be changed."

Thus, preparations for the conference should take about nine months. If everything goes ideally, the diplomat said, a draft agenda and a draft final document may be approved "to change the process from propagandistic into realistic."

"The conference itself, of course, cannot establish the zone [free from weapons of mass destruction], but its objective is to begin the movement in that direction. It is possible, generally speaking, though extremely complicated."

The Russian suggestion may be a part of the UN conference’s final document. The conference will be working through to May 22. If the final agreement is not approved, the Russian initiative will be considered separately. "As far as the procedure is concerned, it seems possible. What will be it be like in reality? Political objections are possible," he said.

"As yet, we have not heard objections to the suggested formula. Many countries, especially from the non-proliferation movement, have appreciated our input," he said mentioning the total of "several dozens of positive reactions." As for the U.S. and the UK, they "take a cautious, neutral position," but still acknowledged "the document contains certain interesting ideas, worth studying."

"It is impossible to satisfy everyone; interests may be opposite," the foreign ministry’s representative said. Israel wants the conference to discuss regional security, without explaining what they mean by the notion and insists on a minimal role of the secretary general and the UN. "The Arabs say without that they would not even talk," the diplomat said. Russia is trying to offer a compromise. "We cannot allow the conference to be organised and fail," he said. "It should offer a decision on further work. This is what we want to achieve.".

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