May 5, 2010
The Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
House of Commons
Hon. Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Cannon,
At the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review States affirmed its commitment to the objective of a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East.
We urge Canada to support the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, and assist with building a consensus among the states in the region around practical measures that achieve this laudable objective.
The longstanding proposal for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East would require the states in the region to refrain from producing, acquiring or possessing nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices. It would also require the states in the region to refrain from permitting the stationing of nuclear weapons on their territory by any third party, to place all their nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and to declare their support for the establishment of the zone.
The current violation of IAEA requirements by the Government of Iran is of great concern to regional and global stability. As Secretary of State Clinton warned, the Middle East presents “the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the world today.” The establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East will be a significant step in uniting the region against the development or possession of nuclear weapons.
The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference developed a multinational mechanism to establish the Middle East nuclear-weapons-free zone. The activities of the multilateral working group on Arms Control and Regional Security in promoting mutual confidence and security in the Middle East stalled in 1995.
The renewed global commitment to this objective provides Canada with a unique opportunity for leadership. Canada is well-placed to bring Middle Eastern states to a consensus around the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free zone. As one of the world’s largest uranium producers, accounting for approximately 22% of world output, Canada also has the responsibility to ensure that nuclear non- proliferation and disarmament remain a high priority on global security agenda.
Given our deep concern regarding Iran’s potential development of nuclear weapons, as well as our recent participation in the April 2010 Nuclear Summit in Washington and the UN’s NPT review conference, Canada should dedicate resources to identifying practical measures that brings the Middle East closer to the goal of being a nuclear-weapons-free zone.
We look forward to your favourable response.
Hon. Jack Layton Leader,
New Democratic Party
New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic