United States Statement to the General Conference on the Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East

The decision to abstain on this resolution is not one the United States takes lightly. It reflects our belief that discussion of Middle East safeguards in this forum should properly proceed on the basis of dialogue, respect, and consensus. We know consensus can be achieved because past General Conferences have succeeded in obtaining it. Regrettably, the current text of the Middle East Safeguards resolution was not negotiated among all states in the region. We hope that next year will see a return to a consensus approach to this resolution.

This decision should in no way be interpreted as a lessening of U.S. support for the goal of a Middle East zone free of all weapons of mass destruction or the universality of the NPT. We remain unequivocally committed to these objectives, even if we understand that they cannot be achieved quickly or in the absence of essential conditions. But the absence of such conditions is not an excuse for neglecting dialogue.

In that regard, I wish to reaffirm my government’s commitment to help convene a regional conference in 2012 as called for in the 2010 NPT Review Conference. In consultation with states in the region, we have been working closely with the United Kingdom, Russia, and the office of the UN Secretary General to identify a host state and facilitator. We hope this phase of our work can be completed soon.

Finally, I wish to note our gratitude for the initiative of the Director General to convene a forum in November on the experience of existing nuclear weapon free zone treaties and their potential relevance for the Middle East. The forum presents a rare opportunity for dialogue and understanding. We hope all states in the region can take advantage of this opportunity and change tired patterns of the past. Clearly, efforts to single out one country for criticism will stand in the way of progress and raise questions as to whether the regional WMD conference can be carried out in a fair and balanced manner.