'ME may become nuke-free zone'

Egypt, US discuss pact which would include Israel, Iran.

May 1, 2010 17:21
1 minute read.
Iranian missile carried on flatbed truck

Iran missile.. (photo credit: AP)


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Washington and Cairo are negotiating an agreement which would see the Middle East become a nuclear-free zone, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

According to the report, which comes two days ahead of a UN-hosted conference to prevent nuclear proliferation, the agreement is aimed at making the treatment of nuclear weapons in the Middle East more balanced.

The US has been criticized in the past for expressing concern over the suspected nuclear ambitions of countries such as Syria and Iran with nary a mention of Israel's reported nuclear arsenal.

The Wall Street Journal quoted senior Obama administration officials as saying that the US officials would meet with their Egyptian counterparts in New York in efforts to promote the idea of a nuke-free Middle East which would encompass Arab countries as well as Israel, Iran and Turkey.

"We've made a proposal to them that goes beyond what the US has been willing to do before," one official reportedly said. Others added that progress would have to be made on the Israeli-Palestinian track before such an agreement could be made.

"We are concerned that the conditions are not right unless all members of the region participate, which would be unlikely unless there is a comprehensive peace plan which is accepted," the Wall Street Journal quoted Ellen Tauscher, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, as saying.

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