The participation of the ambassadors / Mounir Zahran, Mahmud Karem, at the fourth meeting of the Committee of Arab League on arms control and non-proliferation issues
On 20th– 22nd of February 2017, Ambassador Mounir Zahran, Chairman of the Council, and Ambassador Mahmoud Karem, Member of the Council, participated in the fourth and final meeting at the headquarters of the League of Arab States in Cairo under the chairmanship of Prince Turki Al Faisal and the participation of all members, with the exception of the Iraqi Member Dr. Muhammad al-Shara who was absent. The proceedings of the meeting were as follows:
A meeting was organized between the Committee of Elders and the Committee of Senior Arab Officials, chaired by Tunisia. The delegation of Egypt was headed by Ambassador Hisham Badr, Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs. The Chairman of the Committee of Wise Men spoke briefly about the meeting with the representatives of the three depositary countries in Amman in January 2017. He explained that they had not presented any new or even disappointing developments in the region.
Khaled Toukan of Jordan spoke about the interest of the Committee of Senior Wise People on the peaceful use of atomic energy to strike a balance between the political and peaceful aspects of the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
· Ambassador Hisham Bader reviewed the developments of the situation since the review conferences, especially for the year 2010, and did not give hope to progress in the file of the region by allocating a conference focusing on organizing a conference devoted to the establishment of the region before the end of 2012, and then postponed after the appointment of a Finnish facilitator. The Conference of the NPT Review Conference failed in 2015, even after the paragraphs on the Middle East Conference were drafted in the final document of the Conference by the Algerian President of the Conference after consultation with the parties concerned. Finally, the objection of the United States, Britain, Canada on the document, blaming the Arab States.
· Ambassador Mahmoud Karem and Ambassador Wael Al-Assad spoke about the facilitator’s failure in his mission and the inclusion of topics on the agenda of the conference.
· Ambassador Mounir Zahran spoke of the error committed by the non-nuclear states, including the Arab states, since 1968 on negotiating the NPT by not specifying a specific timeframe for nuclear disarmament in Article VI, as well as on nuclear disarmament commitments at Review Conferences including the Middle East resolution at the 1995 Conference, or the 2010 Review Conference of the Middle East Conference, which set the beginning of the Conference (before the end of 2012) and did not set a time limit for the end of the Conference.
· The Committee of Elders met with the European Union’s Polish envoy for disarmament, Mr. Jacek Bylica, who spoke in general terms about the European Union’s influence on the establishment of the region, non-discrimination in its policy of cooperation with Arab States and the impact of the right to peaceful use of atomic energy, and that they share their experience with other countries without discrimination, including Iran, and the protection of nuclear materials within non-proliferation norms.
· Mr. Bylice did not respond to all the questions addressed to him about moving stagnant water to create the area, reviving the mission of the Facilitator, or reviving the mandate of the Middle East Conference based on the results of the 2010 Conference.
· The Committee of Elders was exposed to the five pillars of its work, as was presented in the report of the third meeting on the 29th of January 2017, and formulated in the final report, including recommendations for each.Final Recommendations:
· Demand that all countries in the region join international instruments on weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical weapons) and submit their instruments of ratification to the Security Council before the end of the 2020 Review Conference.
· Coordinating the positions of the Arab Group with other geographical and political groups in the preparatory committees of the Conference itself.
· To request Arab and other non-nuclear states to amend the rules of procedure of the Review Conference starting with the Preparatory Committee to allow civil society organizations to participate in the deliberations of the committees concerned with reviewing the progress of the treaty, not only in one session devoted to civil society organizations. These organizations support the Arab demands, as well as the decision-making process in the Conference, by being a majority, not by consensus, to avoid repeating the arbitrariness of one or more delegations by defeating the Conference in a dictatorial manner.
· Regarding the Israeli nuclear capability item at the IAEA General Conference in September 2017, the wise people agreed that it should be included on the agenda of the next General Conference and that a draft resolution be consulted with countries that had previously supported it in previous conferences and those that did not support it, during the political and geographical groups in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and were invited to vote at the General Conference after ensuring its success only.
· Presenting the results of all these contacts to the next meeting of Arab foreign ministers
· Continue to show progress in preparing for the establishment of the Middle East region on the meetings of the Arab foreign ministers and the Arab summits from now until 2020 for possible positions in the light of the deliberations of the preparatory committees for the next review conference.
· Define the roles to be played in the preparatory process in the Arab capitals, the meetings of senior officials of the Arab League, and in Vienna on Israel’s nuclear capability item.
The Committee of Wise Men met on February 22nd 2017 with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States. The Committee’s Chairman, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, handed him the final report of the Committee of Wise Men in preparation for presenting it to the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers and the next Arab Summit in Amman. For his part, the Secretary-General thanked the Committee for its efforts in preparing the report within the time frame.