The U.S. State Department “regrets to announce” that a proposed 2012 conference aimed at ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction cannot take place because the region is in turmoil and the nations to be included in the nuclear-free zone can’t even agree on the conditions for such a conference.

On Friday, the State Department said there were too many obstacles standing in the way of convening a conference on security issues in a place where no security exists.

This is a setback for President Obama’s call, early in his presidency, to move the world closer to total nuclear disarmament.

“The United States will continue to work seriously with our partners to create conditions for a meaningful conference,” the State Department said in its announcement. “Outside states cannot impose a process on the region any more than they can dictate an outcome. The mandate for a MEWMDFZ (Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone) must come from the region itself. That principle must underlie any serious undertaking on this issue.”

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