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Guterres: Vienna Talks an ‘Important Step’ for a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons

Guterres: Vienna Talks an ‘Important Step’ for a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons

Tuesday, 30 November, 2021 - 09:00
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at the R20 Austrian World Summit in Vienna, Austria, May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the convening of the seventh round of Vienna talks between major countries and Iran as an “important step” in efforts to “fully and effectively implement” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program.

Guterres considered it a "valuable tool" to limit the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

“All parties must ensure this valuable instrument remains effective”, he stated.

Guterres was speaking in New York at the second session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Since 1967, five such zones have been established around the world: Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia. They include 60 percent of all UN Member States and cover almost all of the Southern Hemisphere.

The UN secretary-general emphasized that expanding these zones would contribute to building a safer world.

“That is particularly the case in the Middle East, where concerns over nuclear programs persist, and where conflicts and civil wars are causing widespread civilian casualties and suffering, undermining stability and disrupting social and economic development”, he said.

In this regard, Guterres described the resumption of talks on the Iranian nuclear deal (JCPOA), as “an important step,” reiterating his call for all parties to exercise restraint and avoid escalation.

The positive consequences of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons would extend beyond nuclear control, he underlined.

“It will strengthen the international bans on chemical and biological weapons. It will build trust, reduce tensions and prevent conflicts and human suffering”, according to the UN chief.

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