Haifa International Conference for a WMD-Free Middle East
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The Haifa Conference for a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East was held in Haifa, Israel from 5 to 6 December 2013. The purpose of the conference was to further talks on the elimination of WMDs from the Middle East. The conference was organised in part out of concern for the lack of proves in official negotiation towards a Middle East WMD-free zone.
Israel is one of five member states which hasn't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and one of the six member states which have yet to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. At the time of the conference, the Arab Republic of Syria was in the process of the destruction of its chemical weapon stockpile under the supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and tensions were heightened over the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear program.
In October 2013 The Times of Israel discussed 'unconfirmed reports' of a meeting on this issue between Israel and Arab nations, but little was accomplished.
The conference marked the first time in Israel when the issue of weapons of mass destruction was publicly discussed due to Israel's policy of deliberate ambiguity concerning WMDs. The primary conveners were Avraham Burg, author, former speaker of the Knesset who had once headed the Jewish Agency, and Issam Makhoul, former Arab member of Knesset, a long time anti-nuclear activist.
Approximately 100 people from 14 countries attended the conference. Delegates came from Israel, Palestine, Belgium, France, Senegal, the Congo, Germany, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Japan and the United States. Of the delegates attending only 4 were MKs.
Professor Tadatoshi Akiba, former mayor of Hiroshima and a founding member of Mayors for Peace Now, urged a 2020 deadline for world nuclear disarmament. He also urged civil society groups to help governments achieve a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.
- Berrman, Lazer (2013-10-31), "Israel reported to discuss joining nuke-free Mideast conference", The Times of Israel, retrieved 2014-02-09