UN Radio: Syria’s WMD-Free Middle East Proposal
UN Radio: UN Meets On Syria’s WMD-Free Middle East Proposal
Middle East as Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction: UN Security Council looks into draft resolution
The United Nations Security Council is meeting to revisit a proposal by Syria to declare the Middle East a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The Arab-backed draft resolution was first put to the Security Council in April, but Syria's UN Ambassador, Fayssal Mekdad, said he hopes it will receive a better reaction in view of recent developments in Libya:
"The issue of weapons of mass destruction is very important, is prominent on the agenda of the Security Council, and this is a strategic policy on the part of Syria to call for a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, mainly nuclear weapons from the Middle East."
The proposed resolution calls on all countries in the Middle East to ratify the global treaties aimed at controlling the spread of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, and is believed to be aimed at Israel, which is not party to these treaties.
UN Security Council Condemns Recent Attacks in Iraq
The UN Security Council has just condemned recent attacks in Iraq that have killed 19 people. The Security Council President for December, Bulgaria's Ambassador, Stefan Tafrov, read out the statement:
"Members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest terms the repeated attacks in Iraq on foreign and Iraqi nationals, international and coalition personnel, including those perpetrated on December 27th 2003 against Bulgarian, Thai and other international personnel in which lives were claimed and people were injured."
Five more Iraqis and a Bulgarian soldier have died of their injuries following Saturday's attacks in Karbala, which initially killed 13.
Abandoned Iran Weapons Programme Was in Early Stages: ElBaradei
The chief of the UN's atomic energy agency, Mohammad ElBaradei, has seen evidence of a dismantled nuclear weapons programme in Libya. Dr. ElBaradei and his team of experts found equipment that had been taken apart and boxed up at nuclear sites around Tripoli. He told the BBC that Libya's programme was years away from developing an actual nuclear weapon:
"So far what I have seen confirms what they have told me, that this is a programme at an early stage of development. It's a programme designed to develop enrichment capability, but they have not enriched any uranium, to our knowledge, they have not built any industrial-scale facility - it was all at the pilot, laboratory-scale at this stage. However, we still have to do a lot of work, we still have to interview people, get access to information. And once we understand the full nature of the programme, then we'll have to see how we render that programme harmless, or neutralize it."
The visit by Dr. ElBaradei took place just days after Libya declared it was abandoning its programme on weapons of mass destruction. Libya has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure through verification that all of its nuclear activities will henceforth be under safeguards and exclusively for peaceful purposes. Several members of the IAEA team are to remain in Libya to develop a work plan for further inspections and monitoring.
UN Agencies Continue Emergency Aid to Iran Earthquake Victims
UN Agencies are continuing their emergency response to Friday's earthquake in the town of Bam, in Iran, where thousands have been killed, injured and left homeless. The World Food Programme is sending Tuesday 40 tons of nutritional biscuits for the quake victims from its humanitarian response depot in Brindisi, Italy. This follows a shipment on Monday of blankets, emergency kits and water purification units. The high-energy biscuits are part of a larger consignment of 144 tons, which will cover part of the food requirements of 120,000 affected people in Bam and the surrounding area for 12 days.
For its part, UNICEF has flown over 45 tons of relief supplies to help the tens of thousands of children affected by the earthquake. The supplies include first aid and obstetric kits, tents and blankets, 16 community water tanks, and three generators. The UN Children's Agency also said it would soon issue a flash appeal to help provide continuing emergency relief to Bam's children.
On Saturday, a joint UN assessment team found that up to 90 per cent of all buildings in Bam were significantly or totally damaged.
UNMIL Moves into Rebel Area for the First Time
The UN Mission in Liberia has made its first
military move into an area controlled by the rebel forces
from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy -
also known as LURD.