Egyptian Accuses Israel of Blocking Nuclear Free Zone in Middle East

The Egyptian delegate to the United Nations Disarmament Committee accused Israel today of blocking efforts to create a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. The delegate, Omar el-Shafei, launched his bitter attack on Israel just a day after the Israeli Embassy was officially opened in Cairo.

He said that Egypt is trying to promote the Middle East as a nuclear-free zone and its efforts have been endorsed by the international community in a resolution adopted by the General Assembly. Israel was the only country that abstained in the vote last year, he said, adding that this was further evidence of its intransigence on the subject. He warned that if Israel continued to refuse to endorse the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Middle East would be open to unlimited ventures in the development of nuclear weapons.

El-Shafei noted that the General Assembly was aware of this danger and has appealed to all countries not to cooperate with Israel in the development of nuclear weapons and not to supply it with fissionable material. He said Egypt was awaiting the results of the Secretary General’s study of Israeli nuclear weapons. Israel has denied that it possesses such weapons. Egypt has proposed that the Red Sea be designated a nuclear free zone and is seeking an international agreement to isolate that region from Big Power conflicts.

GHALI SEES AUTONOMY AGREEMENT

Meanwhile, Boutros Ghali, Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told a press conference in Bern today he was optimistic Israel and Egypt would solve the question of Palestinian autonomy on the West Bank and Gaza Strip before the May deadline. “Even if an agreement will not be reached on all the problems some agreements will be made to allow for further negotiations,” he said.

Ghali, who was ending a two-day official visit as guest of Swiss Foreign Minister Pierre Auber, called on the European countries to take a more active role in helping solve the autonomy problem. He particularly suggested help from the Socialist international in which Israel is a member and trade union organizations.

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