Julian Borger
London Guardian
May 3, 2010

The US and Russia have drafted an initiative to ban nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, the Guardian has learned.

The proposal – involving the appointment of a special coordinator to conduct exploratory talks with Israel, Iran and the Arab states, followed by a regional conference – will be a central issue at a conference beginning tomorrow in New York aimed at preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons around the world.

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Washington and Moscow have circulated the proposal among the three other permanent members of the UN security council, seeking their endorsement. But it is unclear whether the initiative, aimed at reviving a largely-forgotten 15-year-old agreement with some tentative practical steps, will go far enough for Egypt, a key player at this month’s talks. Cairo has long championed the idea of a WMD-free Middle East as a means of exerting pressure on Israel, the only country with nuclear weapons in the region.

The New York conference brings more than 150 countries together in a month-long effort to repair and update the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), at a time when it is threatening to unravel.


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