THE UNITED NATIONS, May 06. /ITAR-TASS/. A conference on establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East is possible this year, director of the Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament at Russia's Foreign Ministry Mikhail Ulyanov told ITAR-TASS on Monday.
“We believe that December 1 is quite a realistic date. We have more than half a year ahead. With eagerness and active work, there are chances to complete the preparations,” he said.
Creating a regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is stipulated in a 1995 UN resolution. The Review Conference on the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 2010 decided to hold the international forum in 2012. This failed to happen when some Middle East countries refused to participate.
The third session of a preparatory conference gathered at UN headquarters on April 28. A WMD-free zone in the Middle East is “at the top of the agenda”, Ulyanov, who is leading the Russian delegation, said.
“The situation now looks better than a year ago because over the year, a series of unofficial meetings helped make noticeable progress though convening of the conference is still at a long distance from now,” said the diplomat.
Ulyanov said he understood Arab countries’ demand that the conference’s founders - Russia, the US, Britain and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - announced another date, having failed to meet the commitment to hold it in 2012.
“It is quite a reasonable presentation of the problem,” he said, adding that most delegates in New York viewed Russia’s proposal to hold the event in early December “either with interest or highly positively”.