Russia, US, Egypt, others urge nuke-free Mideast

AP News
Posted: Apr 25, 2013 1:26 PM

GENEVA (AP) — Russian, U.S., Egyptian and Arab League diplomats are pushing for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, a goal they admit will be tough to reach.

On the sidelines Thursday of nuclear talks in Geneva, the diplomats debated a plan proposed by Moscow think-tank PIR Center.

It includes steps such as Mideast nations committing not to attack one other, allowing the U.N. nuclear agency to safeguard nuclear facilities, and creating a new regional body for nuclear cooperation.

U.S. diplomat Thomas Countryman called the idea ambitious. But he and the Arab League's Wael Al-Assad cited Iran's disputed nuclear program — which Tehran insists is peaceful — as a major stumbling block.

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Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov also said any accord depends on Israel, which is believed to have atomic weapons but hasn't confirmed that.