Middle East nuclear weapon free zone

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The Middle East nuclear weapon free zone (MENWFZ) is a proposed agreement similar to other nuclear-weapon-free zones. Steps towards the establishment of such a zone began in the 1960s led to a joint declaration by Egypt and Iran in 1974 which resulted in a General Assembly resolution (broadened in 1990 through the Mubarak Initiative to cover all weapons of mass destruction).[citation needed] Following the 1995 NPT Review Conference, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held a series of meetings involving experts and academics to consider ways to advance this process.[1]

Such a zone would strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), would help to promote global nuclear disarmament and would also help the Middle East peace as substantial confidence-building measures.[2] As of 2014, three countries in the Middle East have been found in non-compliance with their IAEA safeguards obligations under the NPT: Iraq, Iran and Syria. Of these cases, Syria remains unresolved.[3]

History[edit]

Steps towards the establishment of such a zone began in the 1960s led to a joint declaration by Egypt and Iran in 1974 which resulted in a General Assembly resolution (broadened in 1990 through the Mubarak Initiative to cover all weapons of mass destruction).[citation needed]

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (the ceasefire ending the Gulf War) recognizes the goal of establishing the MENWFZ (para 14).

Following the 1995 NPT Review Conference, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held a series of meetings involving experts and academics to consider ways to advance this process.[4]

In 2004, the Gulf Research Center proposed the establishment of a WMD-free zone covering the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), Iran, Iraq and Yemen. This subregional WMD-free zone was supposed to be a first step toward a broader one to cover the whole Middle East.[5]

Following pressure from Egypt and the Arab League, the 2010 NPT Review Conference called for holding a conference on a MENWFZ which would primarily press Israel to end its policy of a ambiguity. Finland planned to host such an event in 2012.[6] However, no agreement was reached on the agenda and other issues, and the conference was called off in November 2012.[7][8]

An international group of concerned citizens, including former members of the Israeli Knesset, responded to the lack of progress in official talks by organizing an International Conference For A WMD-Free Middle East. It was held in Haifa in December 2013.[citation needed]

As of 2014, three countries in the Middle East have been found in non-compliance with their IAEA safeguards obligations under the NPT: Iraq, Iran and Syria. Of these cases, Iran and Syria remain unresolved.[citation needed]

Positions[edit]

Egypt[edit]

For the Egyptian government, a MENWFZ was seen as a central source of pressure on Israel to relinquish its ambiguous nuclear policy, and to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).[9] Until the Iranian nuclear program, Israel was believed to be the only regional country to have a nuclear deterrence capability, developed in the 1960s.[10]

Iran[edit]

Iran categorically denies that it is pursuing a nuclear-weapons capability and insists that its nuclear program solely aims at meeting its growing civilian energy needs.[5] The phrase "nuclear technology for all and nuclear weapons for none" sums up the Islamic Republic's stance.[5] Tehran has taken a low-profile approach toward the MEC, neither endorsing nor rejecting it.[5]

In 1974, as concerns in the region grew over Israel's nuclear weapon program, Iran formally proposed the concept of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East in a joint resolution in the UN General Assembly.[11] The Shah of Iran had made a similar appeal five years earlier but had failed to attract any support.[12]

The call for the creation of nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East was repeated by Iran's President Ahmadinejad in 2006,[13] by Foreign Minister Mottaki in 2008,[14] and by Foreign Minister Zarif in 2015.[15]

In early November 2012, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, announced that his country planned to attend the WMD-free MidEast conference.[5] The conference was however later cancelled.

Israel[edit]

As Avner Cohen, Gerald Steinberg and other experts have noted, Israeli policy has emphasized the link between nuclear demilitarization and a comprehensive peace settlement including Palestinian issues and with countries and potential threats in the region, including Syria and Iran.[16] Israel maintains a veil of “studied ambiguity” (“amimut”) [10] about its nuclear arsenal, and has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steinberg, Gerald M. (1998). Thakur, Ramesh, ed. The Obstacles to a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones. London: Macmillan Press. ISBN 0-333-73980-9. 
  2. ^ "Toward a Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone". European Dialogue. 
  3. ^ IAEA and Syria
  4. ^ Steinberg, Gerald M. (1998). Thakur, Ramesh, ed. The Obstacles to a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones. London: Macmillan Press. ISBN 0-333-73980-9. 
  5. ^ a b c d e [1]
  6. ^ "Finland will host 2012 conference to start talks on nuclear weapons-free Mideast". European Dialogue. 
  7. ^ "Diplomats: Mideast nuke talks called off". USA Today. 11 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Israel rejects UN call for nuclear transparency". RT. December 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ Karawan, Ibrahim (1998). Thakur, Ramesh, ed. The Case for a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East. Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-73980-9. 
  10. ^ a b Cohen, Aver (2010). The Worst Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain With The Bomb. Columbia University Press. 
  11. ^ "Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 86, Autumn 2007, Rethinking Security Interests for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East, Rebecca Johnson". Acronym.org.uk. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  12. ^ "Iran Asks UN Action to Keep Region Free of Nuclear Arms, New York Times, July 13, 1974". Iranaffairs.com. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  13. ^ "Iran call for nuclear-free region". BBC News. 27 February 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  14. ^ "Iran seeks nuclear-free Middle East, says Mottaki, Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran". 5 February 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-08-14. 
  15. ^ "PressTV-Zarif calls for a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East". Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  16. ^ "Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone". Federation of American Scientists. 
  17. ^ Telhami, Shibley; Kull, Steven (January 15, 2012). "Preventing a Nuclear Iran, Peacefully". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]