Middle East WMD Free Zone Conference Likely to be PostponedPosted: November 13, 2012
This is not good.
The NPT regime is at a fragile and sensitive moment for a number of reasons, but none more important than the failure of NPT parties to meaningfully progress the program of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East.
The decision by NPT member states on whether to extend the NPT indefinitely in 1995 was not at all a foregone conclusion. Nuclear Weapon States were generally for it. Many NNWS developing and developed states, however, had serious concerns, particularly regarding Nuclear Weapon States’ track record on implementation of NPT Article VI, and regarding the situation in the Middle East.
The final decision to extend was based upon a package deal of adoption of a set of principles and objectives, and a resolution on the Middle East which called on all states in the region to join the NPT, and further called on them to take practical steps towards the establishment of a WMD free zone in the Middle East.
In 2010 the Review Conference adopted a Final Document by consensus, which included another Middle East resolution, specifically calling for a conference by the end of 2012 on the establishment of a Middle East WMDFZ.
I think it’s important to understand that many Middle Eastern and other developing states saw this Resolution in 2010 as a vital part of the bases on which they agreed to the 2010 Final Document. They also link this process directly back to the 1995 Middle East resolution, which they saw and continue to see as a vital part of the bases on which they agreed to the indefinite extension of the NPT.
So as a result, to many NNWS the holding of a MEWMDFZ conference in 2012, the way in which the conference proceeds, and the continuing process and negotiations on universal Middle East NPT membership and a WMDFZ which that conference must beget, are perceived as directly related to their continued level of support for the 64 action items of the 2010 RevCon Final Document, and their overall commitment to the future RevCon process.
To now see that the 2012 conference is apparently not going to happen – at the very least not in 2012 – is a very bad development, and the reaction particularly from Arab states will no doubt be very negative.
If support from Middle Eastern and other developing states for the NPT RevCon process disintegrates, this could have dire consequences for the ongoing relevance of the NPT.