Shaikh Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah, the GCC secretary-general, said on Friday: "I call on Nato to exercise direct pressure to eliminate WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) from our region, without exception." 

 

Attiyah, who was speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Qatar on Nato's role in Gulf regional security, said: "We do not want our region to be sandwiched by arms here and arms there."

 

While Israel strongly denies that it already has a nuclear arsenal, it is widely believed to have one.

 

Iranian power

 

Iran, which is pressing ahead with a campaign of civil nuclear development, is suspected by many countries of using that programme as a cover for developing atomic weapons.

 

Iran continues its campaign for
civil nuclear development

Tehran strongly denies those claims.

 

Asked if he was reassured by Tehran's insistence that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only, Attiyah said: "We hope so, because that is exactly what we want ... a secure and non-nuclear zone."

 

But he said: "Israel was the first to introduce these types of arms into the region, which has led other states to seek to imitate it."

 

He expressed concern about a cycle of action and reaction that could lead to a spread of atomic weapons throughout the region.