Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Helps Block UN Plan to Rid World of Nukes, Citing Defence of Israel

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canada Helps Block UN Plan to Rid World of Nukes, Citing Defence of Israel

Article excerpt

Canada helps block UN anti-nukes plan

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OTTAWA - Israel has expressed its gratitude to Canada for helping to block a major international plan towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Elsewhere, however, there was widespread international disappointment that Canada and Britain supported the United States in opposing the document at the United Nations review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The document called on the UN to hold a disarmament conference on the Middle East by 2016. Such a conference could have forced Israel to publicly acknowledge that it is a nuclear power, something the Jewish state has never done.

Adopting the document would have required a consensus, but since none was reached, that means nuclear disarmament efforts have been blocked until 2020.

In a weekend phone call, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Stephen Harper for what he called Canada's principled stand, Harper's office in Ottawa said in a statement.

"Prime Minister Harper reaffirmed Canada's commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation, including within the framework of the NPT," the statement said.

"He also stressed Canada's belief that a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone can only be truly effective if all countries in the Middle East participate freely and constructively in its establishment."

Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada's decision "sends a strong message about Canada's resolve not to compromise the integrity of a treaty to which we remain fully and deeply committed."

But there was widespread opposition and disappointment expressed by several countries that addressed the conference, which wrapped Friday after four weeks of meetings.

Austria, which spoke on behalf of 49 countries, said the result spoke to the wide divide over what nuclear disarmament should mean. "There is a realty gap, a credibility gap, a confidence gap and a moral gap."

The delegate to South Africa added: "There is a sense in which the NPT has degenerated into minority rule similar to what we had in South Africa under apartheid -- the will of the few will prevail regardless of whether it makes moral sense. …

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