Washington sought to hinder other countries’ efforts to hold a United Nations conference on establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Vladimir Yermakov said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"Washington tried to hinder the efforts other countries were making," TASS quoted him as saying.
Yermakov was regretful that Israel had chosen not to participate in the conference. However, in his words, there is nothing calamitous about it. "The process has just been launched. Israel still has time to join it," the Russian diplomat pointed out.
"On the whole, we positively view the outcome of the conference," Yermakov noted, adding that preparations for the event had taken years. According to him, the conference proved to be "a vitally important" step.
Possibility of Israel's decision on Middle East zone free of WMDs
Moscow believes that it is important to build dialogue on creating a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction but does not expect the Israeli authorities to make any decision on the matter anytime soon, Vladimir Yermakov said in response to a TASS question on Wednesday.
"Israel is unlikely to make any fast decisions. However, we need to move forward on the road to dialogue, avoiding confrontation," he pointed out.
When asked why Israel should participate in the United Nations conference on establishing a Middle East zone free of WMDs, since, according to some of its neighbors, the country possessed nuclear weapons, Yermakov noted that "it has never been recognized officially." "Israel has never declared itself a nuclear power, so there is certain political uncertainty in terms of Israel’s status and it seems the uncertainty will remain," he added.
Israel has never officially confirmed its possession of nuclear weapons. However, its neighboring countries are confident that Israel does have a nuclear arsenal. In particular, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a statement on the issue in September 2019. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in June 2018 that Israel possessed at least 80 nuclear warheads.
The UN conference took place in New York on November 18-22. The conference participants adopted a declaration, highlighting their "intent and solemn commitment to pursue in accordance with relevant international resolutions, and in an open and inclusive manner with all invited states, the elaboration of a legally binding treaty to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction."
The second session of the conference is scheduled for November 16-20, 2020.