EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016 Special Session 4
Chair: Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large Ayman Khalil, Director, Arab Institute for Security Studies 
Shlomo Brom, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Program on Israel-Palestinian Relations, Institute for National Security Studies 
Mohamed Derdour, Executive Secretary, African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE)

Provisional Transcript

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

Dear colleagues. I know this is a very exciting topic, and if I hear you in the room, there is a lot of either interest or excitement about the topic. Anyway, very welcome to all of you. We are not supposed to introduce ourselves, because you all have an app, so everybody should look in the app if they want to know who is sitting here.

If you forgive me, I break that rule and I just say that I am from Geneva where I work on disarmament, and I came just from New York, where we did quite a number of interesting talks. I am however very happy to be here with you, not because I think this is the most promising issue we have for the next PrepCom, or for the next review cycle, but I think this is a very pertinent issue which played a major role in the last NPT conference, and is an issue we should deal with. I think that it is for the right reasons that we have it on the table during this conference.

I am very grateful to the three people who will introduce the topic. I have met all of them before, in fact we have a long-standing issue on this. I will not say more, because otherwise I am breaking the rule again. And with that, I would like to give the floor, and I would start if that is okay with you, Professor, with you, Professor Derdour. Since we have a little bit of time, I would propose that we do it in eight minutes and then we have more time for the discussion. I think we have a lot of interest, I know several of the colleagues sitting in the room have a lot of history on this topic as well, so I think it will be good if there is time.

Mohamed Derdour, Executive Secretary, African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE)

I say why I asked for ten minutes. It is because there is the new organisation and there are people that do not know this new organisation, people that don’t know this Pelindaba treaty. It is just time to introduce quickly the Pelindaba treaty and after go directly to the subject of this meeting.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would just like before to thank the organiser and the sponsors to give us this opportunity to speak about the Pelindaba treaty and also AFCONE, which is in charge of the implementation of the Pelindaba treaty. The Pelindaba treaty is the most complete treaty. It’s dealing with NPT, with non-proliferation, disarmament, and CTBT and all the UN specific commission which work in disarmament and 1540.

The birth of AFCONE, which was created according to article 12 of the Pelindaba treaty, needs a strong support by his member states. The P5 was also a member, the other party of this, because they signed the two other protocols, and also the IAEA, and the CTBT are also part of this, because they signed also a part of the Pelindaba treaty. The great support that it need from this, I call senior organisation, in order that AFCONE fulfil its missions, and the African party be in compliance with the Treaty of Pelindaba.

So, I go directly to the subject of this meeting I fit with this. I would like to start from the Obama statement in Prague, all the nuclear conferences, the last conference in Washington DC. We can analyse, and it invites some mixed signals that may be interpreted or understood as some lines moves, slowly but moves in a positive sense towards a global regime of security and peace, not peace and security, because security is a precursor for the peace. In this regard, let me outline that the book and movie that is just presented during this Washington conference, this movie on military nuclear industry accident. The book is called Control and Command and this morning I heard many speakers saying, Control and Command, let control command our regime of security and peace.

Now I go to the Middle East directly. The African country in front of the Middle East troubled with this region are not part of that Pelindaba treaty. Mainly and particularly Egypt, because Egypt has a particular position. It is a member of EU and African states, and also African states. It is not a member of the Pelindaba treaty. Just between us, I speak with her foreign office, with her ambassadors in Vienna. He said we make a lot of – but we don’t get anything. I said, all the condition to be in the Pelindaba treaty are with you. You signed the NPT and so on, and the CTBT is not in force, so you can easily be a member and also play a great role as a bridge between the two regions. Also if Egypt is a member of the Pelindaba treaty, this can reflect on the situation of the middle zone and moves a little bit the lines.

If this non-party state, I said Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, and Djibouti. I speak with many countries: Sudan isn’t progressing in ratification at the level of Parliament; Djibouti Foreign Affairs Ambassador said they would also, we are interested to be in the Pelindaba treaty. I say, if the non-party African country becomes, or we push them, in some manner, I believe we can move the rigid lines in order to introduce a new way of thinking, culture, in the mind of a young, new, connected generation of those regimes. Because I think that, in this sensitive issue, the lines move very slowly, and my hope is that in four, three generations, maybe we can reach this kind of all the conditions will be ready that we become this.

The move is of course slow, but if you believe in that target of peace and security, this can happen with that indicated new connected generation instead of in three, four generations. So we need the sustainable strong democratic regimes too, in that region, supported also by strong civil societies. So, broken that also status quo, because many countries in the region, they play themselves in the status quo. They don’t enter in their interests very well. If we go to the universalisation of the Pelindaba, should be a starting point to assess that goal. By concrete, effective, binding legal provision, visions and norms towards a global regime of security and peace and equality RSP[?]. Thank youyou’re your attention.

Shlomo Brom, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Program on Israel-Palestinian Relations, Institute for National Security Studies

Thank you. Talk about arms control and disarmament in the Middle East currently looks a little bit detached from reality, isn’t it? Because first I would say that we have to stop killing each other. That’s what we are doing in the Middle East. And there is a general feeling that nothing can be done in the region in which the male concept of statehood is challenged. You know, arms control in the region and disarmament, is between states. But is this the current problem in the Middle East?

The problem in the Middle East is that states are weakened, the non-state actors are playing a major role, and, taking this into account, it looks like the prospect for arms control and disarmament at least in the Middle East, seem indeed very bleak. And particularly when you look at the recent attempts to do something, the idea of having a conference on the Middle East weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone, decided upon by the 2010 NPT ref con is dead, for all practical purposes. The attempts of the Finnish facilitator, Jaako Laajava, to use the discussion about the discussions, mainly meetings between the relevant parties to discuss the terms of reference, there was no agreement of the terms of reference of course. Usually there is no agreement on anything in the Middle East. And the attempts of the Finnish facilitator to use these talks themselves as an opportunity to have real discussion between the two sides without calling it the WMD free zone also ended without having any real achievements.

So, it seems that we are stuck, that there is no clear way which we cannot help that will lead us to achievement of the goal that by the way is accepted by everyone. The goal of establishing a WMD free zone in the Middle East. Nevertheless, I am not completely pessimistic, and I will explain why I’m not completely pessimistic. That is because I think that what is happening in the Middle East, you know it has many names. It started with the Arab spring, and then people were talking about the Islamic winter, and now everyone is using a very neutral term. That is good. I like neutral terms, and that is the transformation of the Middle East.

The transformation of the Middle East is a very difficult process, but, because of this process, I think that there is the beginning of serious changes in the threat perceptions and the calculations of many state actors in the Middle East. I am not talking about the other actors. And one of the changes is of course the understanding of many actors that the problem is that they are non-state actors, and what are we going to do about them and how we are going to re-strengthen the states. And one good example to this change of security calculations and threat perception is the relationship that is developing, the better relationship that is developing between Israel and some Arab states, based on common interests. And that I think is opening real possibilities. To start a fresh dialogue – I am not as optimistic as to say among all of the states of the Middle East, but at least among coalition of the willing. A number of states that would be willing to start the dialogue, by the way, not only on arms control and disarmament, but arms control and disarmament do not stand on their own. It is part of regional security, and we have to start with dialogue on regional security. To start talking about our common problems, security problems and how we are going to solve them.

That will of course not be easy in the Middle East, because you know, on one hand we have this transformation, but on the other hand, many of the state institutes and the establishment is suffering from inertia. And in my opinion, inertia is very characteristic of foreign ministers. Especially in the Middle East. So, they will have to change a little bit the way that they behave, and try to think about creative ideas how to restart this dialogue. And one of the ideas that can be adopted, and there are some models in the world that encourage use of these ways, is to start by informal dialogue. Track two, track one and a half, in which officials participate in their personal capacity, etc. Thank you.

Ayman Khalil, Director, Arab Institute for Security Studies

I bring to you this afternoon some good news and some bad news. And I begin with a positive note. Unlike the 2012 Helsinki conference on a WMD free zone, which has failed to take place and never materialise, I am glad to report that the 2017 PrepCom will be held as planned on time and as scheduled next year. The bad news is that we do not have a facilitator any more, but most importantly ladies and gentlemen, the NPT regime seems to be at risk, with a high possibility of slipping into coma.

Perhaps the statement, Mr Chairman, reflects the growing level of frustration and anxiety experienced by Arab intellectuals and officials; frustration that was due to repeated setbacks, and a series of negative encounters, starting as recent as the 2015 review conference, where disagreements over the final document have led to a failure of the eighth session of the NPT review conference. And of course, earlier on, the 2012 United Nations mandated meeting never crystallised, and before that, other setbacks took place, including the collapse of the 2005 review conference, the collapse of the so-called [inaudible] process, and the list goes on and on. In fact, the League of Arab States last year has commemorated the 40th anniversary of Arab efforts in pursuit of the zone.

Speaking of the Middle East, Mr Chairman, I have to emphasise that the Middle East is confronted with two challenges: two nuclear programmes of different natures, two nuclear programmes that are intended for different purposes. On the one hand, we have an Iranians nuclear programme which is becoming part of the national identity and pride in Iran. A programme that is perceived by the Iranians as a means to demand a political leverage, and to gain a foothold in the international arena. And on the other hand, we have an Israeli nuclear programme that is linked somehow to the existence and survival of Israel. So how do we move forward? And that’s a very important question I believe.

Perhaps rectifying false beliefs and negative perceptions is a priority. First and foremost, we have to agree that the presence of nuclear weapons in the Middle East have not made the region safer. On the contrary, it has destabilised the regional security situation, and is driving others to follow suit with a very good possibility of triggering a nonconventional arms race in the region. Nuclear weapons have not and did not guarantee security to any country, including that of Israel. Furthermore, the notion of unilateral nuclear deterrence in a tight geographical context have not proven successful nor realistic, as proved by many historical accounts and incidents.

Mr Chairman, the lack of political horizon and the negative atmosphere created by the derailing of the 2015 NPT review conference is driving the Arab side to consider radical options. And here I have to emphasise that the triple veto, which was used to cripple the process for the 2015 review conference, was used basically to cripple the process of studying the requirements of a WMD free zone. I repeat. Please, lend me your attention. The veto was used to cripple the process of studying the requirements of a WMD free zone. Not establishing a WMD free zone. And there is a great difference, as you say. So, you can imagine that if studying the requirements is that problematic, I mean, you can imagine the complexity of talking about actual steps and measures to implement a WMD free zone in the Middle East.

Mr Chairman, with the lack of political horizon, I would like to brief you on some of the debates taking place in Arab circles and gatherings. The options outlined here do not necessarily reflect here the combined official Arab position, nor the position of my Institute or me personally.

Here are some few examples. Walkouts, number one. You remember the Egyptian walkout in 2012? That was basically a unilateral act of frustration. A highly symbolic act taking place on the day seven of the meeting. Walkouts could be seen again in the near future in various forms, either in individual walkout format or basically in a combined fashion. Another possibility is to have a combined walkout coupled with a political initiative. Another issue of receiving adequate attention, and that is revisiting the 1995 resolution and its indefinite extension process. As you know, the indefinite extension process took place. There was an Arab consent, basically, allowing the indefinite extension in return for a resolution on the Middle East. And revisiting, of course, one side of the formula was applied, and that is we have an indefinite extension for the NPT regime, but still we do not have any tangible steps taking place towards achieving a nuclear weapon free zone, or a WMD free zone.

Engaging and supporting new norms and initiatives, such as the new Humanitarian Impact initiative, and the open-ended working group is another option that seems feasible, and tenable to many Arabs. And many other issues I think I would leave for discussion. General Brom, the fact that the region is undergoing transformation, as you have mentioned, the fact that the region is flooded by non-state actors who have increasing number of activities, makes it even more important and a better cause to engage in sincere negotiations to disarm the region and to declare the Middle East as a nuclear weapon free zone. If I was an Israeli decision-maker and part of the Israeli decision-making process, I would have concluded this issue together with a possible settlement of the Arab–Israeli conflict as soon as I could, given the current turmoil in the region.

Mr Chairman, there are predictions that the 2017 PrepCom is not going to be an easy task. In all cases, we are confident that the Dutch presidency of the conference and our colleagues from [inaudible] are suitably equipped to deal with this challenge, and I wish Ambassador Van der Kwast the best of luck in chairing and handling this enormous and difficult task, and I conclude by thanking the organisers for this event, and I hope that the Brexit upset will not lead to a consortium upset. Thank you so much.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

Thank you very much for that. I would do, if you all three agree, five questions in a row, since I see there are quite a number of questions. I would ask the people who have a question to formulate as concisely and clearly as possible, to introduce yourself shortly, and if you want one of the three speakers to answer or more of them, just identify yourself. I start with Bob Einhorn.

Robert Einhorn, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution

Thank you. I’m Bob Einhorn from Brookings. I have a warm place in my heart for the Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. Nabil Fahmy and I co-drafted that resolution in 1995. Mahmoud was a part of that. But I think the reality is tangible progress toward that zone, toward the nuclear portion of that zone is going to be very difficult. Very difficult. And that’s why it was so hard to get this conference underway over the last several years. I would urge participants in the region to consider a more practical approach to making real progress. And there are a number of things that could be done. Mr Khalil, you referred to ACRS, the arms control and regional security working group of the Middle East peace process. This was in the early 1990s. It made extraordinary progress; it was very positive. It then broke up over the nuclear issue. But I would suggest trying on a voluntary basis to get as many states of the region together, maybe to begin with informal discussions, or making it more formal eventually, about regional security matters, confidence building matters. It was a real start in doing this in the early 1990s. We should look at the possibility.

As far as the zone itself, there’s some early steps toward a total zone that could be taken. For example, the head of the CTBTO likes the idea of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons testing. This would be an extraordinarily positive development. Three of the so-called holdout states in the Middle East. And if they join, it would give a huge boost to entry into force of the CTBT. I think that this would be an important step.

Chemical weapons. There are chemical weapons use in the Middle East today. Syria has joined the chemical weapon convention, although its adherence to that convention is very much in doubt. But why not a Middle East free of all chemical weapons? And the negotiation of that, the mutual verification arrangements that would have to be worked out, with be an important step toward building a nuclear weapon free zone. So, that would be another step. Also, Mr Derdour talked about peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Now, there are a number of countries in the region that are talking about nuclear energy programmes, research programmes even power programmes. There are some common elements there in the civil uses of nuclear energy. Part of the zone could be to have a discussion within the Middle East about that.

There are all kinds of positive steps that could be taken toward an eventual nuclear weapon free zone, a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. But rather than keeping banging head against the wall on the hardest single thing to do, we should start off with a much more practical agenda. My question is, do you agree?

Professor Driss Larafi, Professor, International Relations, Royal College of Higher Military Studies, University of Ibn Tofail Kenitra

My name is Driss Larafi, from the Kingdom of Morocco, professor at the university. My question goes to the Israeli Lieutenant General Shlomo Brom. Mr Brom, you have said in interview I think one or two years ago that Israel, before the deal with Iran the Iranians deal, you said that Israel doesn’t fear the Iranian treaty. Israel is capable of defending itself without America. Suppose this assumption is granted. But how can you explain two striking facts? First the Gulf War, 1991, when the Saddam Hussein’s scuds struck the heartland of Israel. And the second fact is Hezbollah with rockets, which did back to the first four, so it’s not in these rockets. So, the second time, the missiles struck the heartland of Israel. And we know that Israel is a nuclear power. It is the only, all nuclear experts nowadays, but Israel is the only nuclear power whose heartland has been struck. Do you think that that’s why the Israeli officials concluded that the only way to protect the Israeli territory is to have a nuclear second strike force capability? I mean the Dolphin submarine. Thank you.

And the last question for Mr Ayman Khalil. Mr Ayman Khalil, in 2003 there is a report from the carnage foundation which said that Americans and Israelis are undergoing Israeli undersea tests. And that is why there have been earthquakes in Algeria, in Morocco, in the North in Hazima[?], and now it is in Italy. How did, as you are belonging to the Arab league, how did the Arab officials react to these tests which are as we know according to the Treaty of 1971, they are forbidden? Thank you.

Professor Maurizio Martellini, Secretary General, Landau Network-Fondazione Volta

[Inaudible] there is a gap in the logical capabilities and in expertise. So maybe it should be very important to start from the beginning to establish some common language, common semantics, and rules of the game. For instance, it is obvious that chemical hazards and chlorine or everything can be considered chemical weapons. In the nuclear arena, my arena, which is the [inaudible] how much it is challenged to establish nuclear power plants in there. So, what I am saying is that to try to answer in a sort of single box this complex topic in which you have different methodology, different verification mechanisms, different let’s say experience, it should be perhaps better to establish some sort of a dialogue among scientists in the region. Inviting chemistry, biologists and nuclear physics to define what they see as challenges, and then to set some formal language and then to move to the policymakers to the experts of problem solving. This is my proposal.

Dr Ali Soltanieh, Senior Researcher and Advisor on Disarmament and International Security, Institute for Political and International Studies

Thank you very much. Former ambassador to the IAEA and the UN. Well thank you very much for this very useful meeting. I have a couple of comments. First of all, the title. Arms control. In the plenary, there was a very good point that it was an assumption that the Russians also pits and the US had nuclear weapons, they wanted to have arms control. Arms control, nuclear arms control, WMD arms control. What is it. The title is not suitable. Therefore, we are assuming that giving legitimacy. This is a very bad sort of title which derailed the attention.

The second point is a very simple question in the region when we are talking about the Middle East free zone from nuclear weapons. All explained before, I don’t want to go into the history. Very simple question is whether we talk in the world, we know the country that has a nuclear weapon programme or not. Even DPRK proudly says, yes, I’m testing. But in the beginning, they didn’t trust, but the CTBT confirmed. But in the case of Israel, we have this ambiguity, plus the policy which creates problems. Have or not? The former in fact Prime Minister had an interview with the Germans newspaper and journalist, and said, we have it. And when I was ambassador in Vienna, there at the meeting of the board of governance, there was avalanches of questions, then the Israeli representative raises hand and said no, I deny it, we don’t have it. Then I raised a hand and asked the IAEA to send a fact-finding mission. Whether their Prime Minister is telling the truth or the ambassador who is telling the truth, this is it. Therefore, until this is clear, we cannot move to that ultimate direction that everybody said even in the panel that it is a deal go to Middle East free zone.

Now having said so, Mr Einhorn gave a couple of confidence building measures. The problem is, I agree with him that after this historical development that Syria has joined the chemical weapon, and in fact I was interested to help Syria to fully implement their obligation, therefore this is a big step toward universality of this, and maybe the Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons. Good. But I am afraid that focusing on the Middle East from the chemical weapon, we are diverting and putting in archive the ultimate goal and the intention of having a nuclear weapon free zone. That should not be dye looted. Even with the CTBT as it was mentioned, I am not commenting on that. But I am commenting on this measure. Therefore, we have to be very careful. I proposed last year in the same meeting here, in the same Brussels meeting and also other venues, a suggestion which is my own personal initiative because of the all 30 years of experience, our non-attack against nuclear facilities in Middle East. It means immunity of all nuclear facilities in the Middle East could be a first confidence building measure that all will declare that they will not attack nuclear facilities, which has of course a [inaudible] consequence for the region and for the world. India and Pakistan have hostile positions, but they have agreed not to attack nuclear facilities. Why not in the Middle East? Just declare that nobody will attack nuclear facilities, and all nuclear facilities would be immune. Thank you.

Professor Dr Mahmoud Nasreddine, Secretary-General, Middle East and North Africa Strategic Studies Center; Former Director-General, Arab Atomic Energy Agency

I am Dr Nasreddine, former director-general of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency. This agency is a governmental agency with in the league of Arab States, and I know when the governmental organisations have to discuss with the member states some problem, they don’t have to explain the point of view of their member states. I think the reason of the Arab/African countries to stay out of African [inaudible] are much deeper than was explained by our colleague Professor Derdour.

Second point, it’s true that we have non-state actors in some Middle Eastern countries. But the problem or the question of creating this Middle East and free zone is still alive because if three or four governments are weakened by the non-state actors, we still have at least 18 Arab countries able to discuss the matter of the free zone in the Middle East. Another point of the General, he said that he is optimistic. I don’t know from the Arab side we have to be pessimistic. But because what is happening now in our region is internal war in Iraq, mainly in Iraq and Syria, and the output, what we are afraid to happen, is the creation of new states within each state. This state will be based on religious issues. Which is in line with Israel. That is why I think we have to be pessimistic. The most important to have peace in the Middle East is to have strong government in each member state in the region, not to look too this division within each country to say it is a matter of domestic future in the region. Thank you.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

Thank you very much. With that, we have five questions, so I would now ask the different members of the panel to answer that and I will start in the same order with the question of Bob Einhorn which was addressed, if I understand well, to all three of them. So we start again with you.

Mohamed Derdour, Executive Secretary, African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE)

Thank you, Chairman. I agree with Mr Nasreddine. I said that I just in my introduction that I give only the main lines. We can develop deeply each point. First of all, as the point to forbid into attack nuclear facility, repealing that treaty for bid and the attack of nuclear facility, and also forbidden the stationing of any explicit device in the region of Africa. This is why my title is universalisation of the Pelindaba treaty towards a global regime of security and peace, because security is a prerequisite for peace.

On the Middle East zones, I would like to suggest that has an Arabic agency, there are many Arabic countries from Africa who are in the Pelindaba treaty. I suggest there is a strong, close exchange between these Arab African countries with the Middle East Arab countries in order to exchange with them the spirit of the Pelindaba treaty. The Pelindaba treaty is the most complete one. I said, NPT, disarmament, CTBT, also for the waste forbidden to dump the waste in Africa. And as I said before, for bid and attack any nuclear facilities in that country, and forbidden also any stationing of any explosive nuclear device in the region. This is very important. And the Pelindaba treaty, look, has many partnership. The IAEA, CTBTO, for the 1540, the disarmament commission in Geneva, and also the P5. All the P5 are in the two protocols that are in the Pelindaba treaty. All these are parties. And AFCONE will have agreement to IAEA, CTBTO, and all P5 countries too in 2007.

So. Why I said that if you can bring universalisation with the Pelindaba treaty, we can reach a global security and peace regime? I am explain. I would like to outline on the last, there is many levels. Because I have seen here people speak on politics, the strategic operation. There is many. You have to structure the approach in parallel not consequently. You have the politics levels, you have the strategic levels, and operation levels. I think the operational levels have to work with the civil society. The strategic levels is to go with the government, foreign affairs ministers. And politics with the government and the regions, and UN, and all the regional organisations and UN organisations, in order to push all these norms and standards as I said before legal provision measures, norms, binding, not only make a resolution which is not binding. You have to make a legal binding provision measures and norms, and starting with that gives is actually the platform of Pelindaba treaty, and also brings this all the country which was in front of the Middle East part of Pelindaba treaty. We can move and reflect this spirit on the regime of the Middle East. And I said, it moves slowly, but it moves in the positive stance. It will be done in a certain third or fourth generation, because actually you have to break the status quo. Because all the countries in the region has an interest and that is the status quo. If you break the status quo, we can move quick. But it is not easy. Because actually the major country in the play in the region has not reached what you call a steady-state [inaudible] between forces. So we have all P5, all the international organisations to work toward to reach a steady-state equilibrium between the forces in the region. Because now you have Turkey, you have Saudi Arabia, you have Iran, you have Israel. All of these want to dominate the region. But you have to work to reach a steady-state equilibrium between the forces there. Thank you so much.

I would like to add that I would write some words formal and then give it to the chair.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

Thank you very much. General Brom, please.

Brigadier General (Retd) Shlomo Brom, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Program on Israel-Palestinian Relations, Institute for National Security Studies

Not surprisingly, I agree with most of the points that Bob Einhorn made. He actually continues my line of thought. And that concerns also some test steps on the way to a WMD free zone. The CTBT for example, I can talk about my own country. We are actually willing to join the CTBT. We took steps to join the CTBT, and the main reason we didn’t do it and we didn’t ratify it is because the Americans didn’t do it. And that is the kind of relationship that we are having. The egg and the chicken.

Chemical weapons free zone. It’s a good idea, but I am sure that there will be opposition from one of the, some of the Arab states. And I understand why they will be in opposition. Because everything is connected. So they will say, why chemical weapons and not nuclear weapons, etcetera?

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

But do you think if Israel would ratify, that would be a problem for the others? Particularly now that Syria has ratified the chemical weapons convention?

Brigadier General (Retd) Shlomo Brom, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Program on Israel-Palestinian Relations, Institute for National Security Studies

If Israel unilaterally will do it, of course it will not be a problem. But nobody is willing to do anything unilaterally, unless they are forced. Syria was forced. Libya was forced. Iraq was forced. But the main question is we are talking about different regional arrangement. What exactly there will be discussed? We forget that there is no regional forum in which this kind of assumptions can be discussed. There is ISOA, but I go to one of the six that Ambassador Soltanieh said. He gave a suggestion, of an agreement of non-attack on nuclear facilities. Fine. Where will it be discussed? Is Iran willing to participate in a regional forum on which this kind of subjects will be discussed? Without it having a veto on what subject will be discussed? Everything can be discussed. Will Iran be willing, and other states in the Middle East to participate in such a forum? So, the main problem is that we don’t have this kind of forums. How exactly are we going to discuss it?

Ayman Khalil, Director, Arab Institute for Security Studies

Forums really exist. You have the United Nations as a forum; you have the International Atomic Energy Agency forum. We met in Lyon, we met in Geneva, we’ve met everywhere, and all these forums were found to be useless at the end of the day. Bob, your suggestion is quite interesting. I mean, ACRS is a very positive experience by the way, yet it was a very good starting point, yet leaving a deep scar and slipping into coma. Perhaps you don’t know that within the multilateral process, ACRS was the first subcommittee to fall into coma. So possibly this is not a very good example. You know, we started as a track one, then track 1.5, then eventually came into track two process. I mean, we advise the facilitator by the way that the ACRS process going on by the same token, by the same strategy adopted within the ACRS process was not a conducive act eventually. A chemical weapon free zone. I mean, you know, continuously concessions are repeatedly asked by the Arab states. Technically speaking and politically speaking, the Middle East is basically a chemical weapons free zone. All Arab countries have signed and ratified the chemical weapons convention. All Arab countries, except for Egypt, all Arab countries including Egypt have signed and ratified the biological weapons convention, except for Israel. Israel is not signing and ratifying the NPT, is not signing and ratifying the chemical weapons convention, the biological weapons convention, and then so in fact practically speaking, the chemical weapon free zone exists. Politically speaking.

The other issue is that we have seen repeatedly in the international contacts the creation of nuclear weapon free zones, but I have not seen any solid example by which we can be guided in which a chemical weapon free zone has been established, or a biological weapon free zone has been established. And by the way, the NPT review conference extends the parameters of the WMD free zone to include chemical, biological, nuclear plus delivery vehicles, missiles. Missiles now is part of the agenda. Dealing with this on a step-by-step basis, I don’t see this happening. And I am not seeing this to be fruitful.

My Moroccan friend, the earthquakes that you have mentioned, we are aware that the Israeli side is conducting underground testing on the other side of the border. We share a very long border with Israel, a border overlooking the only surviving occupation in the globe. And within these borders, we monitor from one time to another some conventional testing being conducted underground. But I think the most important issue is the environmental consequences of an Israeli nuclear programme. The Dimona is not that far away from Jordan. Aerial distance is about 35km. We know that the Israeli side is dumping its nuclear site on the peripheries of Dimona. We know that the most recent wave of earthquakes in the late 1990s have impacted significantly the underground heavy water tanks within Dimona. Israel has three facilities, by the way. One of them is open to international inspection, which is Nahal Sorek, and others are completely closed.

Dimona operational time, ladies and gentlemen, is now over. This is a facility that has been constructed since the late 1960s. A catastrophe, God forbid, a catastrophe in Dimona will impact the Israeli society first and foremost, and the entire region. The Middle East is so small and so tiny.

So, I think the environmental consequences of an Israeli nuclear programme has to be taken into consideration, plus the fact that the area resides on a seismological active rift. And that is a situation that you have to take into consideration. Thank you.

Mohamed Derdour, Executive Secretary, African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE)

I would like last remarks very quickly. Just about chemical convention. If Iraq and Syria and Libya are forced to sign and ratify, Israel has the force to not sign and ratify. This is the simple picture that can develop. And this is part of the status quo that for example Israel went the status quo [inaudible]. And Egypt followed him and said, we signed the NPT, and when you will come to be part of the additional protocol as well.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

General Brom, we still have the question from our colleague from Morocco, which was addressed to you. And I think you addressed the question of Ambassador Soltanieh on a non-attack forum, you addressed already. Could you shortly answer the question of the colleague?

Brigadier General (Retd) Shlomo Brom, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Program on Israel-Palestinian Relations, Institute for National Security Studies

Well, I can’t say that anyone thinks that nuclear weapons are a remedy for every security threat. Nuclear weapons are only aimed at preventing existential threats. You know, Saddam’s missiles and Hezbollah’s rockets are not an existential threat on the second-strike capability that you mention, that supposedly we are building. The only purpose of second strike ability is to contribute to deterrence against the nuclear strike of the other party. And the problem is that the nuclear deal with Iran, which by the way I supported, because I saw that it is better than the alternative, but the nuclear deal with Iran practically is only delaying the problem to a later stage, for 10, 15 years. And after 10, 15 years, we will be back on the same point. On which Iran is a threshold nuclear state, when it concerns of course nuclear military capabilities, I have no problem with the Iranians civilian nuclear programs. And then once again, we’ll have to do, it will be dependent purely on the Iranian decision whether they are making the final step in building military nuclear capabilities or not. So what I mean to say, it’s part of another game, not Saddam’s missiles, and Hezbollah’s rockets. But I didn’t refer also to someone, that Ambassador Soltanieh said, and that is about the Israeli nuclear ambiguity policy.

Well, I am not so sure that the alternative is better. And I completely understand why Israel to stop with this ambiguity, because Iran thinks that then it will be easier to put pressure on Israel. To disarm. But that is the only argument that it can make, because I don’t think that the ambiguity policy makes Israel more threatening or something like that.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

We now go to the second round, and I must guess you to put your questions. We have one of the half hour, and I see several people really want to address the question. And I will start with the gender balance. And that is the lady secretary. Maybe you could introduce yourself shortly.

Nabeela Al Mulla, Former Ambassador of Kuwait to the EU; Former Permanent Representative to the UN and other International Organisations in Vienna and to the UN in New York

Nabeela Al Mulla, I’m the retired ambassador for the foreign service of Kuwait. I am a survivor of ACRS. I was the head of my delegation, meetings in Washington and Moscow for quite some time, and just to remind some of the participants here, it was arms control and regional security, not disarmament. And why did it fizzle out, or something like that? For several reasons. Some of you are aware because they were maximalist objections put on some of the committees rather than others. There were other reasons as well, which was the political one, because Syria did not want to be part of that whole system under the different committees, and so some of us, the other delegations, found that we would not be able to go forward without the participation of the Syrian government and the Lebanese government in our midst. So that is one of the reasons. And also, I’m the former chair of the Board of Governors during a very interesting year, 2003, DPRK, Iran, Iraq, and the request for safeguards for the agency.

Now, we have always been somehow more practical in our objectives towards the arms control. We are a very small country, but we belong to this conglomerate of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and we thought that the incremental approach might be much better than the others. Not the big signing ceremonies or whatnot. For example, we think that countries of the region should updates not ratify the CTBT, or they should be active participants in the convention, like what the United States does, posting up the budget, and having stations and I think Iran still has to approve the stationing of a seismic post on its territory in the northern part. And the question is, how can we go forward besides the big theatrical thing of a signing ceremony? Can we have the countries add here too, for example, the Convention on the safety of nuclear installations? Can we do something more incremental than the bigger picture that needs more of a political and makes the countries lose face and what would the kind of background and luggage that they carry. Can Israel for example join some kind of a safeguards arrangement and make it publicly known so it will address our concerns in the region? Thank you.

Dr Syeda Annie Waqar, Lecturer, Academic Consultant, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

My question is regarding how do we get to the way of basically knowing that there is so much regional instability in that region? And we are not talking about, like my fellow colleague talked about, signing a sort of official document to just say, alright, this is it, we’ve done it. I mean, there are so many things. Like, there’s a nuclear pariah, have, and have nots. You have Israel, where there is obviously ambiguity. Iranians nuclear deal at the same time. What process, I mean it follows the question that my fellow colleague gave. What is the process in terms of knowing that there is so much regional instability at the moment, so much turmoil, and knowing that this is one way forward that we need to look into in the maybe address this issue. Do we need to have a sort of a different kind of a regime within this nuclear non-proliferation regime that addresses this region in particular, when it comes to nuclear arms control, chemical weapons, and stuff. Do we need to first address that regionally in collaboration with regional organisations, which can have is one of the other fellow colleagues from The Brooking Institute talked about, having CBNs [?]. That’s one way forward. Looking towards maybe creating a separate regime outside the nuclear non-proliferation regime to first address these issues and the make a way forward. Do you think, is there a possibility that maybe you can help deliver something like that, knowing the situation at the moment? Thank you very much.

Wael Al-Assad, Representative of the Secretary General for Disarmament and Regional Security, League of Arab States; Permanent Observer of the Arab League to Austria and to the other International Organisations

Thank you. I have two comments but I will try to form them in the form of questions. My name is Wael Al-Assad. I work for the League of Arab States. Now I understand what Mr Brom has said regarding the transformation or metamorphosis of the region. But to use that as an excuse has become a bit old.

Since the 1970s, whenever the issue of the zone has been put to the table, we were told, the time is not right. The circumstances are not conducive for discussion. The security issues, and so on. So since the 1970s, Israel has refused to participate in any serious discussion about disarmament and this issue of the zone. In the 1970s they said no, until to the 1980s to the resolution and so on. And in the 1980s, they said yes, but we want direct discussions. When we had direct discussions, they said no to the nuclear file in the ACRS, and so on. My question is, I can understand that if you have nuclear weapons you are reluctant to give them up, but there was a window of great opportunity for the Israelis in the preparation meetings that were done in Lyon and Geneva. He referred to the lack of regional forum. We offered a grand forum. We wanted to meet all under the UN umbrella, and to seriously discuss this. They said no. They said we have to meet informally with the UN. Now, all the Arab states said okay, agreed, we will come to the table. Now, 18 Arab states came to the table and sat with Israel and they just missed the opportunity of a serious discussion. They started talking about the grand solution. They didn’t want the zone; they thought the zone is too incremental, too small. They wanted to discuss in one package all regional security issues. And when we asked for a definition of that, they said terrorism, short-range missiles, conventional arms, and then zone. So I think we need to refrain from repeating the same old arguments that we have been doing for the last 40 years. I totally respect the experience of Mr Einhorn, but he knows the ACRS already has three versions of what happened there. And this is what is happening now. Why, because it is all done informally, it’s all done undercover, and there is no stocktaking, there is no need for following through on what we are doing. I have no problem with people saying what they want, but we have to be a little bit clear about it, and not repeat the same old thing. Track two and track one and a half are excellent, to support a formal track. But on their own, they are totally not productive. I have been involved, and so many others, since the 1990s in track one and a half and track too. They produced nothing. Sometimes, they add to the aggravation among the members. Unless they are in support of a formal track.

My last point if I may, there is this regional set of that we are concerned about, our regional security, and this is why we are trying to push for the zone. But the zone has an impact on the international scene, on the review process. It has become part and parcel of the review process, and this issue of the Middle East is not going to go away. Now, it has caused the success. It was part of the success in 2010, and it was the main reason for the failure in 2015. And we are heading towards 2020, and that’s not very far away. And it might be a major problem if we do not start thinking properly on how to handle this issue at the international level, at the multilateral level. Of course this issue is very complicated, there are many things happening, but I feel a little bit irritated when I hear discussions about what happened in Lyon.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

I see your point but let’s stop here because the longer you talk, the more time you take from your colleagues in the room. Thank you for your points, and I think they are very pertinent, and I will ask all three people of the forum to react to it, particularly because you bring up the Lyon thing, and I think that is good. And I think we heard little about that. Now, I have to select now, I had Professor Ronzitti already, so please professor, to you. Then the colleague there and then you will be the last speaker, but please be short.

Professor Natalino Ronzitti, Scientific Advisor, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)

Very quickly, Mr Chairman, thank you. Non-state actors were mentioned, but it was not deepened, this problem. Because I guess this is very important. Also, the definition of non-state actors, what it means, just terrorists, insurgent community, militia longing to a state or not. This is important. And I guess one point in the middle is there could be a fight against non-state actors, as we see now, provided that we define precisely what means non-state actors. The second point about a treaty not to attack nuclear facilities. You have to distinguish here between a time of peace and the wartime. In times of peace, I guess this is forbidden. But the law of self-defence does not allow you to attack another state unless you have been the object of an armed attack. In wartime, there is a protocol, protocol one additional to the Geneva Convention, prohibiting to attack objective releasing dangerous forces. The problem is that in the Middle East, not all countries are party to the protocol one, and I guess it would be very important for those countries to become party to protocol one additional to the Geneva convention. Because the law is there. What you can do, the most. For instance, to have a regional resolution is easier to obtain a regional resolution instead of a treaty, since the treaty should be ratified. And the third comment or question is about the prohibition treaty and the [inaudible]. We heard this morning that the treaty would be [inaudible] because the opponents want not to repeat the mistake of the CTBTO. But the problem is, if you don’t have some countries in the Middle East which ratify this prohibition treaty, this treaty will be dead in the water for those countries. Thank you.

Dr Mahmoud Karem, Board Member, Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs; Chairman, Middle East, Egypt Center, British University Cairo

The Secretary-General of the Arab league, actually the Arab summit and foreign ministers, has decided to form a distinguished group of people, very limited in number, to advise the Secretary-General and the forming ministers on future actions to be taken in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament, insofar as the our position itself is concerned. Wael is the initiator, I am the representative of Egypt, chosen in my personal capacity in that group. On Africa, my colleague and brother Mr Derdour mentioned thing that forced me really to respond, meaning that we do not want to give the impression, because you mentioned that, that Egypt is either boycotting or as an outcast of the African zone, when in reality, may I remind you of the 1996 Cairo declaration on the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in Africa, which was signed in Cairo, which was my responsibility as undersecretary general at the time, and the fact that Egypt was a very important negotiator for the core text of this treaty.

So let us keep this in mind. Disarmament is not really a dirty word. And when we speak of issues such as aerial reconnaissance, joint exercise and so on, we within the [inaudible] have been doing disarmament from 1976. We have reached a dialogue which is very useful to us, saying that confidence building measures and so on, all these kind of measures, constituted our opinion what we call collateral measures under the rubric of disarmament. It is perfectly all right to consider that all these measures that we can label as confidence building as part and parcel of the disarmament process itself. And I say this in full friendliness to my good friend General Shlomo Brom, because I do not want him to differentiate between collateral measures and between disarmament proper, when in reality they both constitute the same thing. Shlomo in 1977, I negotiated with a very distinguished Israeli ambassador to the first committee in the United Nations, Oxford-educated ambassador Ilan[?]. And we negotiated a text on the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. In 1979, we managed to change the Israeli abstention to a yes. And in 1980, we managed to change the Israeli yes to a vote by consensus in the first committee and in the general assembly. And incidentally, that vote by consensus is honoured until today. If we really wanted to progress, we can. If we want political will, we can. If we need people who can convince their governments that you need to take “painful” decisions for the realisation of this objective in our region, then we have to do it. I agree with you, of course, but the argument can go both ways. If we continue to say that the present situation in the Middle East does not qualify the region into and so on, I argue differently.

I say that because of all these negative aspects, it is even more and more important now to indulge into discussions, and very important discussions, and aerial reconnaissance, border control, search and rescue, satellite imagery and so on. If we had cooperation in these fields, we would be able to detect that as we speak there are ISIL members leaving Mosul, going to Syria, and other fighters coming back from Syria to Mosul to defend Mosul against forces. if we had better intelligence corporations in this regard, by satellite imagery and other measures, then we would have been able. So actually, what we need to do is more and more cooperation. And this brings me to the wisdom of what my good friend Bob Einhorn said. Yes, we started ACRS, but we started ACRS and then we grew. We grew. I was co-chair with Nabil Fahmy at that time. As we grew, we grew to Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia was not there at the very beginning. The IAEA was not there at the very beginning, but step-by-step ACRS grew and grew and grew and then we started to rehash and study other important issues with the participation of Israel at the time. The elements of the zone, the agreement on what constitutes a zone free of weapons of mass destruction is a very packed, heavy homework. And this group can begin with this objective. At least identify what are the elements that can constitute a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. And in the same time, you can have a different track, that discusses all the issues that are pertaining to the challenges of our security situation in our part of the world, and how we can better cooperate in order to overcome these difficulties. Thank you, Mr Chairman.

Professor Erwin Häckel, Associate Fellow, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)

Thank you. I must admit that I joined this session here because I was struck by the courage of the organisers of the conference. And I must admit that I fell into the trap and I take the title of the session seriously. It says, arms control and disarmament in the Middle East. Now, what was happening, at least 90% of all speakers here have talked about nuclear things. I don’t read anything nuclear here. It seems as if everyone agreed that it means nuclear. Why is that?

But I wonder, is everyone here agreed that nuclear or chemical is really the most important and acute problem in the Middle East? Now, I can’t believe it. The Middle Eastern region, at least four states, are not functioning as states any more. They are in full bloodshed. Violent conflict is raging in several of the states. Millions of people are running away from the region, most of them to neighbouring countries or to Europe. And talking about nuclear, which is really not something that is being acutely in danger of being used for violent conflict is like fiddling when Rome burns. I must say that I find this session, including most speakers on the panel and in the audience, an outrage. This is not a question, I’m sorry to say. This is a statement.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

Thank you for your statement. Then I will go back to the panel members for the last questions. And I would ask them to highlight two things. I would like them to answer to the questions of course, but to highlight two things which I found notable and I think would suit also to this session, and that is what the ambassador of Egypt said, if we want progress, we can, I think that’s an important statement. Ambassador Assad referred to the window of opportunity there was in 2012, which was not used. And I would like to ask the three of them, what sort of thing should we do to get another window of opportunity this time? I would highlight those two, but please answer also to the other points. And I hope that we can end with a little bit of hope this session.

Mohamed Derdour, Executive Secretary, African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE)

Thank you, chair and I thank the excellency the ambassador as he implies the opportunity to speak more in regime. Of course, if you want and if you believe, and you are faithful, I think we have a very nice binding and non-binding multilateral and regional [inaudible] that we have to use in order to reach a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. With the negotiation, with a negative security of that P5. First we have to believe. And faithful. And the second, we need the negative security of the P5. First to break the status quo maintained enters into a different argument, because the steady-state equilibrium between the playing forces in the Middle East are not attained. I would like to highlight one point. Israel, India and Pakistan are [inaudible] countries. You have on the field the India case. Now the India case you can say that has civil NPT and military NPT. So, does the India case benchmarked to the Pakistan and India case in the future? This is my question. An open-ended question. Thank you.

Shlomo Brom, Senior Research Fellow and Director, Program on Israel-Palestinian Relations, Institute for National Security Studies

I will start by trying to answer your two questions. If the parties want to make progress, they can make progress. Exactly. But the problem is that the definition of progress is completely different for the different parties. I will give you an example from ACRS. It became a popular subject here. One can get the impression that on ACRS, we didn’t talk about the nuclear subject. We talked a lot about the nuclear subject, and WMD free zone. Actually, there were two groups. One was vindicated for what ambassador [inaudible] said, CBMs, collateral etcetera and so on. And the other talks were dedicated to discuss the real tough issues. But eventually, it broke up. And why it broke up, because at that time the Egyptian definition of progress was an Israeli commitment that it would join the NPT. If that is progress, that is the end of the world. It is not simply progress. That should be the case at the end, maybe. And that leads me to something that the young lady there said. She said that we have to do build the regime for our region, that is not necessarily under or part of the global regime. I fully agree. Because we cannot ignore the fact that this region has some very particular characteristics. You know, one can ignore non-state actors and so on, but let’s look at the case of the chemical weapons Convention, CWC, where everyone is saying that Syria joined and adhered to the chemical weapon systems. But at the same time, Syria is using chemical weapons against its own citizens. What kind of adherence is this? There is a problem in the Middle East. So, I think we have to do turn on something that is specific for the Middle East. I wish the Middle East was different, but that is not the case.

So that leads me to my friend Wael. He says that when you talk about the transformation, it’s only an excuse. And it’s not true that the Arab parties refused to have a regional framework that we discussed this issue. There are parties that suggest this is better, that it will be part of the UN discussions. That seems to me a bad joke. Because the UN, which is a global framework, and you know what is the status of Israel in the UN, where votes are counted, how many votes, how many parties will be willing to support anything that is really saying, even if Israel would say that now it’s the daytime and the sun is glowing. I doubt whether it will get a majority in the UN to support this argument. That is the substitute that you are suggesting? I don’t think that the broader framework is better. A broader framework is worse, because it is an excuse for the regional parties not to have a regional framework.

Now, we are not interested in ceremonies. That is not the issue. The issue is how to make real progress, and when I am talking about, and when I accepted some of Bob Einhorn’s ideas, it was not about CBMs. It was as if I was talking about CBMs? So, I think that having a regional CTBT is not a CBM. It is something very concrete, and by the way, something very concrete in the sense also that the first steps have already been taken. You know, the Italian gentleman talked about cooperation between scientists. Building this seismological system network that was supposed to track nuclear tests in the Middle East was one of the few occasions where there was cooperation between scientists on the different parties. So, I am talking about concrete steps which can be taken and there are times as a security question.

Now, referring to what the gentleman from Germany said, I think he is right. That is one of the problems. That is what I said. Progress has a different definition by Israel and by some other parties, because for the other parties, it’s true, it’s only the nuclear area. For Israel, it is much more than that. Thanks.

Ayman Khalil, Director, Arab Institute for Security Studies

Thank you very much. You know, I first respond to my Italian colleague on the threat of non-state actors, and then I go to your question. Professor, the Syrian regime came to the conclusion that it should disarm from its all chemical weapons and chemical weapons arsenal, because it came to the conclusion, it came to the realisation, that chemical weapons were basically a burden rather than providing a security measure. And I believe if things proceed in a similar manner, Israel will soon experience a very similar situation, a very similar situation by state actors, by an insider, by air operation, etcetera.

That leads me basically to Shlomo’s idea on deterrence. I think Israel’s reliance on nuclear deterrence has been totally failing policy. Nuclear deterrence in this case of Israel mean self-destruction. Total self-destruction, which is not I think your intention. Then, if your intention is to deter a nuclear attack by an Arab country, this will not happen. Not in the near future, not in the long term as well. All Arab countries are bound by the NPT, by the CWC and BWC. I think eventually speaking, the global reliance by Israel on its nuclear weapons to achieve deterrence against conventional capabilities was just by Arab neighbouring countries it wasn’t working. It hasn’t worked definitely in 1973 when the Egyptians tried to gain control of the Sinai, it didn’t last during the Saddam Hussein times, and certainly during Hezbollah. And the last thing that a suicide bomber would be thinking about as a nuclear deterrent.

Now going back to your question, and it’s to do with the measures. I think the most important measure that we could have for the time being that could accelerate the process would be an Israeli willingness to join regional discussions, an Israeli willingness to cooperate on areas of joint interest, incremental steps, and that was to Ambassador Mulla’s question, the possibility of initiating a no first use treaty within the Middle East, incremental steps in the field of environmental sampling, we have requested repeatedly of the Israeli side to providers access to the peripheries of Dimona to conduct some environmental sampling, but this was totally rejected. All of the initiatives that we’ve been doing were basically rejected by the Israeli side. So, Israeli willingness is highly needed, thank you.

Henk Cor Van der Kwast, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Ambassador for Disarmament at large

Thank you. We stop here. We have gone over the time already Professor, I’m sorry. I want to thank all three speakers but also you for having a very good discussion. Thank you so much. And see you later on around, and there is room for further discussion bilaterally.

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Brussels, 3-4 November 2016

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016