Angry over Israel's presumed nuclear arsenal, Egypt walked out of the second week of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on Monday, according to Reuters.
The two-week meeting has been reviewing progress in implementing the 1970 NPT.
The following is an overview of the Egyptian stance on the discussions.
Egypt claims region not serious about implementation
Cairo said it wanted "to send a strong message of non-acceptance of the continued lack of seriousness in dealing with the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East," according to Reuters.
Former Egyptian Ambassador to Geneva Hisham Badr specifically cited Israel on the first day of the conference, saying that "more than 30 years later, one country in the Middle East, namely Israel, remains outside the NPT."
Egypt's foreign ministry explained its decision by saying, "We can't wait forever for the implementation of this decision," a report from Aljazeera said.
According to the report from Aljazeera, Israel, Iran, North Korea, India, and Pakistan are not part of the NPT.
US calls for Egypt to comply with NPT
The United States and Israel have said that the lack of a broader peace agreement between Israel and Arab states and Iran's own nuclear program makes it impossible to have a nuclear free region.
On Monday, the U.S. State Department was asked during a press briefing about Egypt's possible interest in building a nuclear plant. "We support cooperation in the area of peaceful uses of nuclear energy for countries that comply with their international obligations under the treaty, under the NPT," according to Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell. "And we encourage all countries to adopt the highest standards of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation. And while nuclear energy can play a role as a part of a long-term, comprehensive energy strategy for Egypt, we recognize Egypt also faces acute short-term energy shortages and urgently needs power generation capacity now from other sources as well."
Ventrell said that while a nuclear plant was one possible route to accomplishing short-term energy needs, Egypt needs to comply with NPT standards.
The U.N. Security Council's five vetoing powers had called for a nuclear-free Middle East ahead of the discussions, Aljazeera reported.
During the 1995 review of the NPT, Arab nations agreed to a permanent extension of the treaty in exchange for Israel joining the treaty and giving up its presumed arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.
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