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UN chief warns of consequences if no meeting is held on nuclear-weapons-free Mideast

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning that the failure to hold a conference on establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East this year could jeopardize the success of next year's review of the landmark 1970 agreement aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear arms.

In a report to the U.N. General Assembly circulated Thursday, Ban urged all parties to finalize arrangements for a conference to be held as soon as possible.

At the 2010 conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, 189 member nations called for convening a conference in 2012 on establishing a Mideast zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

It was scheduled to take place in late 2012, but the U.S. announced it would be delayed, apparently to save Israel, widely believed to possess nuclear weapons.