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The third session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction concluded today at the New York Headquarters of the United Nations, with its Chair expressing confidence that sustained efforts towards its objective will ultimately bear fruit.

In closing remarks, Jeanne Mrad (Lebanon) said that she was convinced that achieving the Conference’s goal — to conclude a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East — “will greatly enhance peace and security and benefit all peoples in the region”.

It would also contribute to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, she added, as the session, which opened on 14 November, drew to a close.  (For more information, please see Press Release DC/3855.)

“This third session, building on the political momentum and institutional structure achieved by the first and second sessions, aims to build and consolidate the foundation for substantive deliberations moving towards the embarking of negotiations,” she said.

In this regard, the Conference’s report (document A/CONF.236/2022/L.3), adopted at the end of the day, indicates that the parties negotiating the future treaty recognize that it should be based on existing instruments — namely the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.

“We are fully aware that the journey to reach our objective is a very challenging one, but I am convinced that with a strong political will and commitment, we can achieve progress with collective dedication, wisdom and hard work,” the Chair said.

Representatives of 21 Member States from the region, as well as four observer States (China, France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom), participated in the session, as did representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Biological Weapons Convention’s Implementation Support Unit.

As in previous sessions, Israel did not take part in the Conference, with the report stating that credentials or other information concerning its representatives had not been received.

Calls for holding the Conference began in 1995 at the Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  In accordance with General Assembly decision 73/546, in 2018, the Secretary-General was entrusted with convening annual week-long meetings with the aim of elaborating a treaty to create a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, and inviting all States in the region, the five nuclearweapon States and relevant international organizations.

The fourth session of the Conference will take place from 13 to 17 November 2023, at the New York Headquarters of the United Nations.

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