…from PressTV, Tehran
The United States will not participate in a conference on establishing a zone free of all types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East “because of Israel,” Russia has announced.
“The Americans refused to take part because Israel refuses to participate,” said Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday.
The WMDFZ conference will be held from November 18 to 22, at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. According to Ulyanov, Russia and China will participate as observers.
Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, but its policy is to neither confirm nor deny having atomic bombs. Estimates show that the regime is currently in possession of 200 to 400 atomic warheads.
The Tel Aviv regime is also believed to possess the capability to deliver its nuclear warheads in a number of methods, including by aircraft, on submarine-launched cruise missiles and the Jericho series of intermediate to intercontinental range ballistic missiles.
Ulyanov also said the Arab countries of the Middle East “proceed from the assumption that Israel has nuclear weapons and does not want to abandon it.”
Last year, the First Committee of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a decision — submitted by the League of Arab States — that requests UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to hold a regional conference on the establishment of the WMDFZ in the Middle East by the end of this year.
Israel and the US have already expressed their strong opposition to the initiative, saying it would target Tel Aviv.
However, “practical work will finally begin, though without the Americans,” said the Russian official.
In a June report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed that the Israeli regime has 30 gravity bombs that can be delivered by fighter jets — some of which are believed to be equipped for nuclear weapon delivery.
Israel also possesses close to 50 warheads that can be delivered by land-based ballistic missiles, such as Jericho III, said to have a range of 5,500 km, the global security think tank added.
The institute further said that the Israeli regime has modified its fleet of German-built Dolphin-class submarines to carry nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles, giving it a sea-based strike capability.
Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), either.