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Nuclear Powers to Consider Nuke-Free Zone in Middle East

The world's five recognized nuclear powers are set to talk this week about prospects for establishing the Middle East as a nuclear weapon-free zone, Interfax reported on Monday (see GSN, Feb. 17).

Envoys from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- the five nations acknowledged as nuclear weapon states under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- are scheduled to convene in Paris for talks on a range of potential confidence-building measures that could pave the way for future nuclear disarmament.

"One of the topics for discussion is what should be done to fully implement the resolutions of the Review Conference for the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to create a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

At the 2010 five-year review conference of the NPT accord, treaty signatories committed to holding a regional conference in 2012 "on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction" (see GSN, June 3).

Ryabkov said the five nuclear powers -- who also hold the five permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council -- have gathered together before to discuss nuclear weapon issues.

"I cannot say that this whole topic is problem-free," the Russian diplomat said. "At this meeting we will discuss how to find ways of reconciling the positions on the existing nuances" (Interfax, June 27).

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