UN Secretary-General Urges for a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons

On Monday, the United Nations Secretary-General urged all Middle Eastern countries to make the vision of a region free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction a reality. 

Antonio Guterres was addressing at the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction’s second session in New York. 

Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central Asia are the five zones that have been formed around the world since 1967. They cover practically the entire Southern Hemisphere and include 60% of all UN Member States. 

Expanding such zones, according to the Secretary-General, would contribute to a safer world. 

The UN Secretary-General reaffirmed his urge for all parties to exercise restraint and avoid escalation. 

He cited the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), often known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, as an example, adding that the return to the discussion is an important step. 

Iran, the European Union, and five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) signed the JCPOA. Under the previous administration, however, Washington withdrew in May 2018. This week in Vienna talks on Iran’s nuclear program and the resurrection of the JCPOA resumed. 

The benefits of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, according to Mr. Guterres, would go beyond nuclear control. 

It would also, de-escalate regional arms competitions and free up resources for key challenges like COVID-19, climate change, and attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons are estimated to exist in the world today. In 1974, the United Nations General Assembly for the first time called for the Middle East free of nuclear weapons. 

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