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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Fact Sheets > 2003
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Nonproliferation
Washington, DC
May 5, 2003

The Middle East and the NPT

Provided to the Second Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference

The United States welcomes the opportunity to provide information on steps it has taken to promote the environment necessary to encourage nations to establish an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and the realization of the goals and objectives of the 1995 NPT Resolution on the Middle East. In order to promote the environment necessary to achieve these objectives, the U.S. has three priorities: 1) Supporting efforts to end violence and return to political negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians; 2) Ensuring that states are in compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT); and 3) Encouraging all states in the region to join the NPT and adhere to other international nonproliferation treaties and regimes.

1. Support for the Middle East Peace Efforts

Achievement of a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in the Middle East remains a key U.S. foreign policy goal. The U.S. believes that attainment of this goal will help create the confidence necessary to find solutions to the vast array of complex issues that surround the establishment of a regional zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. NPT parties have recognized that efforts toward the goal of universal adherence to the NPT should include the enhancement of regional security, including in the Middle East. The U.S., European Union, United Nations and the Russia Federation, referred to collectively as the Quartet, worked together to develop a road map to realize President Bush’s vision of two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security. This roadmap, the authoritative international plan for peace, was delivered on April 30 to Israel and the Palestinians. The President has made clear that he is personally committed to implementation of the road map. The time has come to take concrete actions to achieve peace. The U.S. will be the active partner of every party that seeks peace.

2. Ensuring all countries comply with the NPT

An array of nuclear nonproliferation challenges exist in the Middle East. During the 2002 meeting of the Preparatory Committee, the U.S. expressed concern regarding non-compliance with the Treaty. There is little hope of establishing an agreement to create a regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction if we cannot ensure that nations of that region implement and uphold existing agreements to which they are party. Ensuring compliance is our highest NPT priority; compliance concerns need to be addressed directly since they affect the core substance of the NPT. The suspicion aroused when an NPT party violates the Treaty or engages in activities contrary to the Treaty only adds to regional tensions. It contributes to the long legacy of mistrust and undermines the prospects for some day achieving a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. The entire effort surrounding arms control agreements is brought into question by unchallenged or unremedied treaty violations. No one committed to peace in the Middle East can ignore these issues. The U.S. also cannot ignore efforts by any NPT party to use Treaty adherence as a means to acquire sensitive nuclear technologies, while maintaining nuclear weapon ambitions and pursuing clandestine nuclear capabilities. All NPT parties need to act with resolve in response to any such challenge to the Treaty.

For over 12 years Iraq continued to defy the will of the international community. Even after the return of UN inspectors, Iraq failed to meet its obligations to disarm and seize upon the final opportunity afforded by UN Security Council Resolution 1441 which was unanimously adopted. Iraq never made the strategic and political decision to disarm, and so a coalition of the willing undertook to disarm the Saddam Hussein regime. The U.S. looks forward to a new Iraqi government that reaffirms its NPT commitments and brings into force an Additional Protocol. The U.S. will continue to work with the international community with respect to Iraq.

Ensuring compliance with NPT and IAEA obligations is also the crux of U.S. concern about Iran’s nuclear program. Until a public disclosure forced Iran to admit its activities, Iran undertook to secretly build indigenous nuclear fuel cycle facilities, while refusing to accept an obligation to declare such facilities to the IAEA at an early date. After Iran belatedly allowed the IAEA to visit these sites, IAEA Director General ElBaradei reported to the IAEA Board of Governors in March that there are outstanding “questions” and “actions” that the IAEA must pursue in Iran. We strongly support a thorough IAEA investigation of all questions about Iran’s claim to be fully “transparent” and compliant with its NPT safeguards obligations and are waiting to hear soon the results of the IAEA’s efforts. Any Iranian attempt to pursue a nuclear weapons capability would represent an unacceptable security threat to all of us and a fundamental challenge to the NPT and to prospects for a region free of all forms of weapons of mass destruction. Improving the prospects for such a zone requires that Iran change its behavior and take all necessary steps to remove the serious doubts now growing about its nuclear ambitions.

The U.S. is also concerned about other NPT parties in the Middle East region whose statements or activities seem to belie their NPT commitments. We urge all NPT parties to avoid nuclear cooperation with such states and to join the U.S. in underscoring the absolute importance of abiding by Treaty obligations.

Other U.S. actions to promote compliance with the NPT in the Middle East and elsewhere include supporting the strengthening of IAEA safeguards, the negotiation and entry into force of safeguards strengthening Additional Protocols, and the adoption of NPT safeguards agreements. We are pleased to note some progress over the past year. Kuwait signed an Additional Protocol and the United Arab Emirates signed an NPT safeguards agreement. The U.S. commends these actions and urges others in the region that have not done so to take these steps as soon as possible.

3. Universality of the NPT and Other Efforts to Strengthen Nonproliferation Treaties and Regimes

The U.S. continues to encourage the creation of a regional environment that allows for broader acceptance by all Middle East states of nonproliferation and disarmament norms and international standards. Key to these norms is universal adherence to the NPT. U.S. law and policy continue to prohibit the supply of significant nuclear items to non-nuclear weapon states, as defined in the NPT, that do not accept IAEA safeguards on all their nuclear activities. We also strongly promote other nonproliferation goals including:

  • adoption of IAEA full-scope safeguards agreements;
  • adoption and full implementation of IAEA Additional Protocols;
  • adherence to Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) guidelines;
  • unilateral adherence to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Australia Group guidelines;
  • subscription to the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC);
  • adherence to the Chemical Weapon Convention (CWC);
  • adherence to the Biological Weapon Convention (BWC) and support for effective BWC implementation procedures; and
  • support for a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

In addition, the U.S. continues to urge supplier states, both bilaterally and in international fora, to refrain from exporting any WMD, missiles or related materials, equipment and technologies, as well as destabilizing advanced conventional weapons to countries in the Middle East, especially those that support terrorism.

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