The Fourth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was held in April 27-May 22, 2015. At the end of the conference, the U.S. blocked an Egyptian-led proposal to convene a summit by March 2016, with or without Israel’s assent, on disarming the Middle East of nuclear weapons.
Prior to this, Dr. Muhammad Al-Sa’id Idris, a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, published an article in which he argued that, instead of being members in the NPT, the Arab countries should strive to develop real nuclear programs and become nuclear threshold states. He wrote that the Arabs’ participation in the conference was meaningless, since Israel, backed by the U.S., would not sign the NPT and would continue to oppose a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. Hence, in order to gain global influence, the Arab states must leave the NPT and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and develop their own nuclear capabilities.
Egypt’s former IAEA delegate, Dr. Mustafa Al-Fiqi, also called recently for the Arab countries to launch an Arab nuclear program in order to restore the strategic balance in the region.
The following are excerpts from Dr. Idris’s article:
“Egypt and the other Arab states participating in the NPT Review Conference, which began April 27, 2015 in New York and will continue until May 22, understand the crisis of the two main topics that concern all Arab countries. The first topic is the refusal of Israel, with the backing of the U.S., to sign the NPT, which currently has 190 signatory states, and to adhere to all the rules and principles of the IAEA, chiefly [the demand to] open all Israeli nuclear facilities to inspection by the IAEA. The second topic is the refusal of Israel, also with the backing of the U.S., to hold an international summit to disarm the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction.
“If some think that these options are [too] passive, then we [also] have proactive options, chiefly to transform the issue of Middle East nuclear disarmament to one [that engages] public opinion and civil society organizations, in order to disgrace the Israeli position and especially the American position. However, the more important thing is to strive for a real nuclear program, including the so-called ‘nuclear fuel cycle,’ without striving for nuclear weapons. Meaning that [Arab countries] will become nuclear threshold states, like at least 50 other countries around the world. Then the world will hear our voice because we will be countries with capabilities and resources, and not just countries voicing objections that no one heeds.”