Opening Plenary
2003 World Conference against A and H Bombs- Nagasaki
August 7, 2003

Mahmoud Karem
Ambassador of Egypt to Japan

Ladies and Gentlemen;

At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Organizing Committee of the 2003 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs for their kind invitation extended to me to address this august body. I feel both privileged and honored to participate in this important gathering in the quest for a Nuclear Weapons Free World.

We meet today, in this remarkable city of Nagasaki that suffered tremendously from the horrors of Nuclear Weapons, to commemorate the memory of the innocent victims of nuclear weapons, and to rededicate ourselves to the just cause of the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In this regard, I would like to seize this opportunity to reiterate my Government's firm conviction and appreciation of the vital role that Non Governmental Organization's (NGOs) such as the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen bombs, play in international decision-making processes in the disarmament field. We, in Egypt believe that the International Civil Society - at large- should play an ever-increasing role in the determining the future of Mankind and our Planet.

Egypt has always been in the forefront of efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament and arms control. This emanates from our firm conviction that the mere existence of nuclear weapons represents a threat to mankind at large. We believe that no matter the pretense or argument, nuclear weapons should be banned forever. In 1978, the First Special UNGA Session on Disarmament declared that nuclear disarmament warrants, our highest priority.

To achieve this goal, Egypt was among the first to promote the negotiations and the conclusion of the NPT in 1968, the strict adherence by all signatory states to its principles and provisions, and has worked since then to achieve the universality of the treaty.

We have also committed to strict observance of the provisions and the tenants of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Furthermore, Egypt's foreign policy, as reflected in International Disarmament fora, has sought to reinforce international efforts towards nuclear disarmament and General and Complete Disarmament. Egyptian delegates to the CD in Geneva, the UN Disarmament Commission in New York and at the IAEA in Vienna have pursued relentlessly these laudable objectives and have been instrumental in establishing the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

On the regional level, Egypt has always been in the forefront of efforts to apply the will of the international majority calling for nuclear Disarmament. In this regard, the Middle East, and area that unfortunately suffers from protracted conflicts, Egypt has been calling since 1974 for the Establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East. The relevant resolution was first adopted in 1974 and since then has been adopted. Starting 1980, this resolution has been adopted by consensus.

Moreover, President Mohamed Hosny Mubarak launched an initiative in April 1990 to establish a Zone free of all Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In 1998, this initiative was further developed by a call for the convening an international conference to consider ways to free the world-at-large form the scourge of Weapons of Mass Destruction, particularly nuclear weapons.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Egypt's efforts on the regional level are by no means limited to the Middle East. In 1996, Egypt hosted the signing ceremony of the Treaty of Pelindaba, establishing the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone on the African Continent.

The NPT and the nonproliferation regime face a major challenge today, represented in the lack of universality. In the Middle East, Israel is the only country with substantial unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, which has yet to adhere to the NPT. It's policy of nuclear ambiguity, fosters uncertainty and lack of security, which in turn fuels the arms race in the region. We call on Israel to adhere to the NPT and open and place its nuclear facilities to full scope safeguards system of the IAEA.

In pursuing nuclear disarmament and arms control, Egypt along with its partners in the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) have sought the undertaking by nuclear weapons states to fulfill their commitments towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, as enshrined in the NPT, and reaffirmed in the NPT review conferences.

We believe that such an important goal, namely the elimination of nuclear weapons off the face of the earth, should not be the sole responsibility of the Governments. The Civil Society in a globalized world, plays an important role reflecting the will of the people. In this spirit, we welcome efforts by the Civil Society, including distinguished NGOs such as your organization, in promoting efforts to supplement and reinforce governmental policies and actions toward this cherished goal.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for your kind invitation to address this august gathering. The wide attendance of this conference by people from all walks of life attest to the importance of issues at hand. Indeed, the noble cause of the World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs is highly cherished by all peace-loving nations. We commend you and wish you all success in your endeavors to realize that goal.

Thank you.