Nuclear weapons-free zone sought

Manila, Philippines --- The Philippines has recapitulated its call for the convening of a conference in the Middle East that will create a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region.

"The Philippines reiterates its encouragements for the United Nations Secretary-General and the three co-sponsors of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, as well as the Facilitator and the countries in the region, to continue to exert their utmost efforts for the referenced conference to be held at the soonest time possible," Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan said in his statement delivered at the General Debate during the 2nd session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which opened in Geneva Monday.

The call came after the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and All Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2012 was not convened last year, as called for in the 2010 NPT Review Conference Outcome Document.

The Philippines presided over the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The NPT is a landmark international treaty aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

According to Ambassador Cabactulan, with the continued failure to implement the NPT's provisions and subsequent agreements such as the 13 practical steps agreed in the 2000 NPT Review Conference, and the action plan adopted by consensus in the 2010 NPT Review Conference, "we are thereby weakening seriously the Treaty itself while we amass worrying concerns of not achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons."

He said the conference is a crucial first step towards achieving lasting peace in the Middle East as he noted that there are over three million Filipinos living and working in the region that will be affected by a possible nuclear attack or accident.

During the same conference, Cabactulan also expressed deep concern over persistent aggressive stance by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to launch its nuclear arsenals.

"We call for sobriety among all stakeholders and for the easing of tension in the region to avoid the loss of innocent lives," he declared. "We also join calls on the DPRK to desist from continuing such provocative actions and to abandon all nuclear weapons and programs."

The Philippine diplomat said that recent developments in the Middle East and in the Korean Peninsula not only pose threats to international peace and security, but to the credibility and effectiveness of the NPT as well.