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Saturday, November 24, 2012
State Department announcement - cannot convene 2012 Conference on a Middle East Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction

2012 Conference on a Middle East Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction
(MEWMDFZ)

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 23, 2012
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/11/200987.htm
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As a co-sponsor of the proposed conference on a Middle East zone free of
weapons of mass destruction (MEWMDFZ), envisioned in the 2010
Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Final Document, the United States
regrets to announce that the conference cannot be convened because of
present conditions in the Middle East and the fact that states in the region
have not reached agreement on acceptable conditions for a conference.

The United States will continue to work seriously with our partners to
create conditions for a meaningful conference. We are particularly grateful
for the tireless efforts of Ambassador Jaakko Laajava, the appointed
facilitator, supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Russian
Federation and the UN Secretary General, to lay the groundwork for a
successful conference against the backdrop of turmoil and dramatic political
change taking place in the Middle East and Iranís continuing defiance of its
international nonproliferation obligations.

The United States believes that a deep conceptual gap persists in the region
on approaches toward regional security and arms control arrangements. These
differences can only be bridged through direct engagement and agreement
among the states in the region. Outside states cannot impose a process on
the region any more than they can dictate an outcome. The mandate for a
MEWMDFZ must come from the region itself. That principle must underlie any
serious undertaking on this issue.

Looking ahead, we encourage states in the region to take a fresh look at the
obstacles standing in the way of convening a conference and to begin to
explore terms for a successful meeting. This will require that all parties
agree on the purpose and scope of a conference and on an agenda and process
that takes into account the legitimate security interests of all states in
the region. We believe that this conference should discuss a broad agenda
that covers regional security and all WMD issues, and that it must operate
solely on the basis of consensus among regional parties.

These are appropriate guidelines for official dialogue on security issues in
the Middle East where none currently exists. They provide the necessary
assurance that states can attend a conference on an equal footing. We would
not support a conference in which any regional state would be subject to
pressure or isolation.

The United States will continue to work with our partners to support an
outcome in which states in the region approach this issue on the basis of
mutual respect and understanding and with acknowledgement of the challenges
inherent in advancing regional security and arms control. A conference
handled this way, with direct engagement of the regional states, will enjoy
the greatest prospects for success.

The United States fully supports the goal of a Middle East free of all
weapons of mass destruction and we stand by our commitments. We further note
our view that a comprehensive and durable peace in the region and full
compliance by all regional states with their arms control and
nonproliferation obligations are essential precursors for the establishment
of such a zone.

PRN: 2012/1840

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