CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt said on Monday it was withdrawing from a second week of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) talks in Geneva in protest at what it called the failure to implement a 1995 resolution for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.
That was an implicit reference to Israel which neither confirms nor denies having nuclear arms and is not a signatory to the NPT. Arab states and Iran say Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal poses a threat to Middle East peace and security.
Cairo said it was pulling out of the talks “to send a strong message of non-acceptance of the continued lack of seriousness in dealing with the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East”.
“We cannot continue waiting forever for the implementation of this resolution,” Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency MENA. Cairo called on member states and international bodies “to bear responsibility for implementing legitimate international resolutions.”
U.S. and Israeli officials have said a nuclear arms-free zone in the Middle East could not be a reality until there was broad Arab-Israeli peace and Iran curbed its nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful energy and research purposes.
The two-week meeting in Geneva is to review progress in implementing the 1970 NPT, a treaty designed to prevent the spread of nuclear arms in the world.
In a speech on the first day of the NPT conference on April 22, former Egyptian Ambassador to Geneva Hisham Badr said ”Egypt and many Arab countries have joined the NPT with the understanding that this would lead to a Middle East completely free of nuclear weapons.
“However, more than 30 years later, one country in the Middle East, namely Israel, remains outside the NPT,” he said.
Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed in Cairo and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Jon Hemming