ME WMD Free Zone Conference Will Not Be Held In 2012, No Revised Date Set

I just wanted to bring this important development forward to the top of the list. As a number of commenters have pointed out in the comments to my related post a couple of weeks ago, it’s now official that the ME WMD Free Zone conference that was agreed in the 2010 NPT RevCon Final Document to be held in 2012, will not be held in 2012, and there appears to be no revised date set. I recommend to readers the statements from various governments on the matter, which have been shared in the comments section of the earlier piece. I’m hoping to get one or more commentary pieces on the blog on this development and its implications, by ME officials or area specialists in the coming days. This is a very significant and unfortunate development that bodes ill for the future of the NPT Review Conference process.

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7 Comments on “ME WMD Free Zone Conference Will Not Be Held In 2012, No Revised Date Set”

  1. Erkan Akdogan says:

    I would like to comment on developments related to (the current failure of) MEWMDFZ from a rather different perspective, e.g. related to the concept of ‘WMDFZ’s.

    The first and most problematic issue is, where is and how do we define (, or delineate) the ME? Where is it? Is Turkey, Morocco or Afghanistan included, or should they be? I think we seem to be global, regionally.

    Let me sum up. The two general ‘intiuitions’, I suppose, behind the ‘FZ’s are in contradiction with and they seem to exclude each and one another: ‘General and complete WMD disarmament’ (e.g. by stating that the desire is to end the ‘armaments race’ in Tlatelolco Treaty) as an utmost goal globally (I’d label it with the ‘Big Boy’) and ‘attaining this goal by freeing zones from WMDs’ in particular, and in regional terms (I’d label this one ‘Little Boy’). In fact, the two contradicts each other by, first, ‘our’ commitment to the global peace, e.g. “perpetual peace”, may be achieved by general and complete disarmament, and second, by (‘our’) accepting cynically that there are/might be other (cf. NPT ‘regime’) parts of the world who might have WMD(s). This contradiction, combined with, or rather derived from, realism/pragmatism of the (con)current modern doctrine of ours (maybe, we should first define ‘who we are’), excludes a possibility to sustain consensus on a major problem we face everywhere, everytime.

    In the end, it is neither realistic nor (practically) possible to hope Israel to attend to the mentioned Conference which is declared in 2010 RevConf in Israel’s absence, and ‘without’ her consent. ‘Without’ Israel’s (, and in a general context, the global partner thereof, US’) ‘genuine’ contribution, the rather modest goal of freeing ME from WMDs (instead of general and complete disarmament in ‘global’ terms) is and would be a constant ‘global’/’regional’ failure. In the meantime, Israel may be right in taking stand against ambiguities related to WMDs covering the ME and the world, but, this stance itself may be the cause of real problem confronts us and awaiting resolution. Or, reversely, the ME, apart from Israel, engages in a rather ‘political’ power-play in order to show Israel is and would be absent ‘in principle’ whereby the UK, the US and RF (, and France/China in the backstage) participates therein, all of which legally/formally possess nuclear weapons, and the ‘absentees’, the other five (Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Iran) which we suspect/believe/assume to hold nuclear weapons.

    Who chooses which way, and how? Can we believe that the Big Boy sustains Little Boy? It depends on ‘us’, and it is our utmost liability vis-a-vis international law, the ME peoples, the mankind, ourselves.

    Thank you.

  2. Dan Joyner says:

    I recently saw the below, which is a statement by the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs on the Helsinki conference. The ECFA is of course under the chairmanship of Ambassador Mohamed Shaker, author of the seminal work on the negotiating history of the NPT. So this is the view of someone who understands the NPT regime arguably better than anyone else:

    “Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA)’s Statement on the
    Postponement of Helsinki Conference on establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction

    (1)
    The Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA) regrets that the USA announced the inability to organize the international conference on establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, the argument was that the current situation in the Middle East and the fact that the regional parties did not reach an agreement on the conditions enabling the organization of the conference.

    The Council believes that the same current conditions in the region necessitate the organization of the conference, even under a preparatory framework in order to start serious work towards establishing of this zone,particularly in the aftermath of the Israeli attack on Gaza, as well as Iran’s non response to the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency on one hand, and Israel’s threat to launch a military attack on Iran on the other hand,
    (2)
    When the conference on the revision of the non nuclear proliferation treaty in 2010 adopted its call for organizing a conference on establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East , we all felt encouraged, due to the believe that this conference will act as a serious move towards the path of achieving this objective, which represents the foundation of security and stability in the Middle East

    region, as well as the possibility that the conference will mitigate the gaps separating the countries of the region in connection with the regional security and arms control arrangements.

    Therefore, under the framework of the international and regional efforts which have been initiated to prepare for this conference, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs has participated in this process with the Arab League and a number of Arab research centers concerned with this issue as a continuation in arranging for the Helsinki Conference . Hence, we feel frustrated as a result of the decision to postpone the conference, which we consider to be a setback to these efforts. The statement issued by the official spokesman for the U.S. State Department for postponing the conference presented two arguments for this decision. The first argument is referring to the current circumstances in the Middle East. The second argument is that the countries in the region did not reach an acceptable agreement on the terms of the conference. A positive outcome of the conference will create a positive environment to deal with the circumstances and the current situation in the Middle East. As for the second argument for not reaching an agreement between the countries of the region, everyone is aware that the main reason for the failure to reach such an agreement is the Israeli position, which was clear from the start and since the decision of the Review Conference, did not welcome this decision and was not prepared to participate in the proposed conference.

    Therefore, it was expected, given the U.S. relations with Israel, that the United States would convince Israel to participate in the conference, which would have reduced the gaps segregating the parties’ vision of regional security and arms control arrangements. We agree with the belief that the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East must come from the region itself. However, due to the intervention of major powers, particularly the United States, in this case, its efforts to continue to hold the conference is important and necessary. In this connection, among the guarantees for the success of the conference and the positive steps it may take is to oblige all countries in the region, without exception to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and their obligations, including the placement of their nuclear programs under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
    (3)
    We are afraid that such a statement from the U.S. will have a non positive impact on the process of the NPT Review 2015, which began its first steps in Vienna this spring, and will be completed in both Geneva and New York later until 2015.Not holding the conference now as scheduled next month will have a negative impact on the review process and even on the treaty itself.
    (4)
    In believing that making the Middle East free of mass destruction weapons will create the appropriate environment for regional stability and security in the region, we will continue working with our regional and international partners for this purpose.
    (5)
    As the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs is a member of the Arab Forum for non-proliferation and the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, it will refrain from commenting further on this matter until the meeting of the four member committee of the Arab Forum is held on Tuesday, December 12, 2012 in Cairo.”

  3. Erkan Akdogan says:

    Dear Mr. Joyner, thank you very much.

    This is a rather examplary statement from the very inside, and I found it very important, too.

    I’d better comment thereupon myself.

    1.”Understanding better” is a relative mode of expression: part of a failure itself.

    2.The statement departs from encouragement and frustration and ends with despair and expectation bw paras. 1-2. E.g. are we for or against major powers’ (e.g.) intervention, or both?

    3.Then, we are faced with fear and hope in para. 3.

    4.Finally, we face w commitment and (,or rather v.) forbearance in paras. 4-5.

    There is no end: we are instructed to follow, or to progress.

    Thank you again.

  4. […] reminding us of the volatile context that provides a background to our deliberations. ECFA issued a statement criticising the conference’s postponement, stating that the reasons given for it – that the […]

  5. […] issued a statement criticising the conference’s postponement, stating that the reasons given for it – that the […]

  6. […] Das brachte uns den brisanten Hintergrund ganz nah, vor dem unsere Diskussionen stattfanden. ECFA kritisierte die Verschiebung der UN-Konferenz scharf. Es seien doch genau die dafür genannten Gründe –die […]

  7. […] 2013 and that he supports the initiative (more information on the WMDFZ in the Middle East here and here). The Secretary-General does not, however, suggest steps to be taken in order to remove the […]


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