U.N. Representative Kane: WMDs and peace incompatible in Middle East

The presence of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and peace in the Middle East are incompatible, a representative of the U.N.'s Office for Disarmament Affairs said on Wednesday.

Angela Kane, UNODA's high representative for disarmament affairs, made the remarks on Wednesday before the U.N. secretary-general's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters at the Palace of Nations in Geneva. Kane said that one issue the advisory board would focus on at its latest session would be the advancement of regional and global security through nuclear weapon-free zones. She said she could not address the issue of nuclear weapon-free zones without expressing her disappointment over the postponement of a Middle East conference on that very subject.

"I cannot possibly address the former without commenting on the global disappointment over the postponement of the Middle East conference on establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in that region," Kane said. "The notion that the presence of WMD in the Middle East and peace in the Middle East are compatible is simply delusionary. In the long run, the choice ultimately becomes one of a region full of WMD versus a region free of WMD. The more one thinks about this, the more compelling becomes the solution proposed in the 2010 NPT Review Conference."

Kane said the other issue for the board to focus upon was the disarmament and security implications of emerging technologies. She said the board must determine what the board will do about progressing technologies like drones.

"How astonishing it is that what we once thought of as 'science fiction' has now become a contemporary security concern," Kane said. "Progress in science and technologies cannot be stopped, but could be shaped to serve humanity and prevent future catastrophes. From recent developments, one could anticipate that killer robots are rapidly moving beyond the realm of science fiction to technological fact. Hence, mankind has the unique opportunity to take pre-emptive action. But will it take it? And what should it do? This is why we have this board."

Kane welcomed a broad public debate and an in-depth analysis of the impact of newly emerging technologies to strengthen international humanitarian law and protect civilians from such weapons.