UNITED NATIONS - UN secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has expressed disappointment at failure of member states to reach consensus on a “substantive outcome” on a non-proliferation treaty for global nuclear disarmament, a move blocked by the United States over Israeli concerns.

The outcome document would have tasked the UN chief with convening an international conference on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone by March 2016. The decision was to be made at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference that closed Friday night in New York.

In a statement issued Sunday regarding the conclusion of the conference, a UN spokesperson said the Secretary-General particularly regretted that States parties were “unable to narrow their differences on the future of nuclear disarmament or to arrive at a new collective vision on how to achieve a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”

The 9th international conference was held in New York from April 27 until May 22. A total of 162 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) participant states were in attendance. These conferences are held every five years to assess the worldwide disarmament process. The blocked document included the plan to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. To do this, Egypt, which first proposed such a zone in 1980, suggested a regional UN conference on banning weapons of mass destruction. The gathering would have no pre-determined agenda and would go ahead with or without the presence of Israel.

But this was resisted by the United States, with its representative Rose Gottemoeller saying the final document reviewed on Friday was “incompatible with our longstanding policies.” She accused Egypt and other Arab supporters of the nuclear-free zone of being “not willing to let go of these unrealistic and unworkable conditions." Israel, which is an observer, but not a participant of the NPT, is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, which it has neither confirmed nor denied. It is also a close ally of the US.

Egypt expressed its disappointment and said: “This will have consequences in front of the Arab world and public opinion.” Washington’s position was backed by the UK and Canada, ultimately sinking the proposal which had to be approved by all countries. Russia, for its part, said it was committed to nuclear non-proliferation and saw similar commitment from most other participants. “The vast majority of the delegations have noted that the treaty remains a ‘cornerstone’ of international security and stability, and serves their interests,” a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said. “Participant countries have confirmed their readiness to comply with their obligations under the NPT.”

IN his statement released by his spokesman, Ban Ki-moon  appealed to all States to sustain the momentum they have built over the past five years, including new initiatives in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and continuing efforts to strengthen nuclear non-proliferation,” the statement continued. “With respect to the Middle East, the Secretary-General continues to stand ready to support efforts to promote and sustain the inclusive regional dialogue necessary to achieve this goal.” Ban has previously lamented a reversal in progress towards new arms reduction agreements following “allegations of destabilizing violations of existing agreements.”

He has warned that the international tide of nuclear abolition has, in fact, ebbed leading to mounting tensions between nuclear-armed States and a return to Cold War mind sets. In today's statement, the Secretary-General's spokesperson added that Mr. Ban hoped that the growing awareness of “the devastating humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons continues to compel urgent actions for effective measures leading to the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”