A snap shot of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry as he speaks in recorded video on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Tuesday 27 September, 2021. Photo courtesy of Egyptian foreign ministry Facebook page.
Shoukry's recorded remarks were delivered on Tuesday at the high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) held to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which is recognised yearly on 26 September.
The Egyptian top diplomat urged world countries to work on ensuring that the world is free from nuclear weapons, including the Middle East, in light of the continuous violations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that came into effect in 1970.
Joined by 191 countries, the landmark NPT seeks to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as to enhance cooperation among countries in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
"More than 51 years after the NPT entered into force, we find that nuclear weapons are still circulating around the world," Shoukry said.
The Egyptian foreign minister said nuclear states that refrain from taking any real steps towards the implementation of Article VI of the treaty are blamed for the grave humanitarian consequences of using these weapons intentionally or accidentally.
Article VI of the negotiations requires parties to the treaty to continue talks in good faith on effective measures towards nuclear disarmament.
Egypt hopes that the coming review conference will give the chance to all parties to work on issuing a communiqué that addresses the main pillars of the treaty and affirms nuclear states' commitment to their pledges, Shoukry said.
He added that the communiqué should also "emphasise the importance of achieving the universality of the treaty and not accepting the continuation of the current situation due to the consequent direct threat to the credibility and feasibility of the treaty."
Egypt urges the international community to support the second edition of the UN Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction scheduled for November 2021, Shoukry said.
This conference "represents the first practical step" towards implementing the decision of the 1995 NPT Review Conference and the 2010 NPT Review Conference's action plan.
The November conference also represents "a real opportunity for all countries of the region to [hold] dialogue and share their relevant concerns" to reach a binding treaty to establish a Middle East zone free from nuclear weapons.
The Egyptian foreign minister held several meetings this month with top diplomats and counterparts from around the globe on the UNGA’s sidelines in New York, including a meeting with Secretary-General António Guterres.
He also gave a speech during the high-level meeting celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted in 2001 to fight racism.
Shoukry also tackled Egypt's foreign policy during a roundtable discussion organised by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi participated in the UNGA, delivering recorded remarks to the session on 21 September and to the UN Food Systems Summit on 23 September.