Emphasis on the Middle East at NPT PrepCom

Diplomats at the 2012 NPT Preparatory Committee have been discussing an extraordinary range of issues, but the highlight of this week’s agenda was Jaakko Laajava, Finnish Ambassador and facilitator of the 2012 Conference on a WMD free zone in the Middle East, on Tuesday morning giving his first official presentation of his consultations throughout the past seven months.

Unfortunately, Amb. Laajava was unable to announce a confirmed date for the Conference (although it is expected to be in December), but he stressed the importance of starting the process as soon as possible and Finland’s readiness to host it in 2012. He said that success of the conference depends on a high degree of cooperation, trust and participation of all states in the Middle East, and over the past seven months has been consulting with governments and civil society in well over 100 meetings. Several states, including Egypt, the United States and Iran reiterated the point that a zone free of nuclear weapons and all WMD belongs to the states in the region and a successful conference this year is a starting point in an arduous and complex process. Many emphasized need for this starting point to take place this year. Of course there are many issues yet to be resolved and crucial states will with-hold their commitments to attend until right up to the conference itself, but this should not hold back the sponsors and organisers achieving logistic clarity on the dates, venue and general agenda. Amb. Laajava is due to address civil society here in Vienna on Wednesday morning, discussing his presentation to States in a closed session off-the-record.

Also this week on Tuesday, BASIC hosted in cooperation with the Hudson Institute the first in a series of strategic nuclear dialogues in Washington D.C. This strategic dialogue discussed nuclear deterrence in the 21st Century, and featured Dr. Christopher Ford of the Hudson Institute and Dr. Barry Blechman of the Stimson Center.


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