King Abdullah of Jordan on Monday expressed backing for establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, Arab News reported (see GSN, Sept. 21).
The ruler, meeting in Amman with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, offered his support for an anticipated conference next month on regional nuclear-weapon bans. Israel and other Middle Eastern states are expected to send delegates to the event organized by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
"The failure to achieve this target will hinder efforts aimed at the establishment of peace and security as well as economic development in the region," according to Abdullah.
He made reference to Israel's presumed ownership of the region's sole nuclear arsenal. Jerusalem holds to a longstanding posture of neither confirming nor denying the existence of the stockpile.
The United States, Israel and allied nations are more focused on suspicions that Iran is attempting to develop a nuclear-weapon capability, an issue that could be raised at next month's meeting in Vienna, Austria. Tehran says its nuclear program has no military component.
Meanwhile, nations continue efforts to schedule an international conference on a WMD-free Middle East in 2012 (see GSN, July 22).
Jordan is among a number of Middle Eastern states looking to develop atomic energy capabilities. The nation "will strike an example to be followed for exploiting nuclear energy in peaceful uses and in adopting the highest safety criteria in its nuclear program" Abdullah said (Abdul Jalil Mustafa, Arab News, Oct. 11).