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U.N. delegates debate weapons-free zones

Oct. 17, 2012 at 12:10 PM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Members of the United Nations are encouraged to get behind a proposed conference to rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, an envoy said.

Delegates from member states are debating proliferation challenges at a conference at the headquarters for the United Nations.

Jim Kelly, the Irish delegate, said a proposed conference on creating a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction was an obvious opportunity to address regional security concerns.

He said discussions on a weapons-free zone would be "difficult" and long, but the "prize" would be worth the time and effort.

A proposal for such a conference in Helsinki in December was outlined during a 2010 review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Iranian delegate, Eshagh al-Habib, said regional focus ignored the nuclear arsenal of weapons states like the United States. The persistent refusal of the "Zionist (Israel) regime" to join the NPT, meanwhile, was cause for regional concern, he said.

Israeli delegate Ron Prosor, for his part, said countries like Iran, as well as groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, posed fundamental security threats to his country. There was no forum, he said, for which to develop confidence-building measures in the region.

"Any regional security dialogue should focus on actual threats," he said.

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