China has denounced as “extremely irresponsible and disturbing” an Israeli minister’s statement that a nuclear bomb on the besieged Gaza Strip was an option, stressing that all Israel’s nuclear sites must be placed under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, Geng Shuang, made the remarks during his speech at the fourth session of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) on Monday.
He urged Israeli officials to retract such statements, calling on Israel “to accede to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons” as a non-nuclear weapon entity as soon as possible and to place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards.
Geng went on to say that China was “shocked” by statements that came from Israeli officials on the use of nukes on Gaza, saying such “extremely irresponsible and disturbing” remarks should be universally condemned.
The Chinese official further noted, "Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have been a major factor causing a trust deficit in the Middle East, undermining regional peace and stability."
He also stated that China is ready to join other countries “to inject new impetus” to establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
Such a move "will help curb the proliferation of WMDs, safeguard the authority and effectiveness of international non-proliferation regime, and reduce the risk of an arms race and conflict, thereby providing an important mechanism for the maintenance of long-term regional peace and security," he emphasized.
Last week, Israel’s heritage minister Amichai Eliyahu sparked a controversy after floating the idea of using nuclear weapons against the Gaza Strip.
He made the suggestion in an interview with an Israeli radio channel, as the occupying regime continues it deadly bombing campaign against the besieged territory.
Israel waged the war on Gaza on October 7 after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas carried out the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm into the occupied territories in response to the occupying regime’s intensified crimes against the Palestinian people.
According to the Gaza-based health ministry, at least 11,255 Palestinians have been killed in the strikes, most of them women and children.
A number of other countries also condemned the Israeli minister’s statement at the UN conference, calling it a threat to the world.
Oman’s UN Ambassador Mohamed al-Hassan said the threat to use nuclear weapons in Gaza “reaffirms the extremes and brutality of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people” and their “disregard for innocent life,” calling on the UN Security Council and the IAEA to take decisive action on the matter.
Lebanon’s Charge d’Affaires Hadi Hachem also condemned the Israeli minister’s comments, stressing that “this self-acknowledgment of having nuclear weapons and the threat of using them by its officials, poses a serious threat to both regional and international peace and security."
He also urged Israel to stop “such rhetoric or posturing” and join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon entity.
UN disarmament chief Izumi Nakamitsu also stated, “Any threat to use nuclear weapons is inadmissible,” without mentioning Israel, reiterating the “urgency of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”
Russia's Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said given the new escalation of violence in the Middle East, a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region “is more pertinent than ever.”
However, he said, Moscow is “extremely uncomfortable” that the promise to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Mideast has not been met after almost 30 years.