Arab League Boycott of Nonproliferation Meetings

Wow this is a big deal – the Arab League, led by Egypt, are threatening to boycott nonproliferation meetings, including the upcoming NPT PrepCom meeting in April. They are upset about the lack of progress in actually progressing the agenda of a WMD free zone in the Middle East, and in particular over the non-occurrence of a conference on this issue that NPT states parties agreed by consensus in the final document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference would be held in 2012.

Readers will remember that I wrote a couple of pieces about this months ago when we learned the 2012 conference wouldn’t be happening.  See here and here.

I think some people have underestimated how strongly Arab states feel about this subject and how, as I explained in those previous pieces, they link the concept of a ME WMD Free Zone very directly back to the decision to indefinitely extend the NPT in 1995. To them it was part and parcel of the bargain reached in 1995 that made the positive vote on indefinite extension happen.

I’m personally glad that they are taking a stand on this issue, and I hope that they keep the pressure up and actually follow through with their boycott if necessary. The hypocrisy and inequity of the West’s willfully blind eye toward Israel’s possession and implied threats of use of nuclear weapons are unacceptable to the rest of the states in the ME, as well they should be. I think the Arab states have finally had enough of the failed promises of the West to address this problem, and that they are saying clearly that the future of the NPT regime itself depends on meaningful progress on this issue.

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16 Comments on “Arab League Boycott of Nonproliferation Meetings”

  1. yousaf says:

    As I tell people, yes NPT is working swell from the P5+allies perspective but it is only going to work until one day it doesn’t.

  2. Don Bacon says:

    An item on “Israeli nuclear capabilities and threat” has been on the agenda of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency since 1987 and the Conference has adopted resolutions calling upon Israel to place its nuclear installations under Agency safeguards.

    Before last year’s nuclear meeting documents were submitted showing that Arab nations were seeking Israel’s censure.

    Oddly enough, Israel is a founding member of the IAEA (1957). One of Israel’s nuclear facilities is open to IAEA inspection, the other isn’t. Israel has participated in IAEA inspections. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano visited Israel, and one of its facilities, in August 2010.

    ME polls of the Arabs who actually live in the area fear Israel which has nukes, and not Iran which doesn’t, but Israel refuses to sign the NPT and allow full inspection. Iran has often called for the ME to be nuclear-weapon-free.

    • yousaf says:

      What are people’s thoughts on the IAEA’s evidently accepting Intel evidence provided against NPT member states, by NPT-non-members in general?

      Even though they may be members of IAEA, it strikes me as odd that NPT non-members can leak Intel (concocted or otherwise) to the IAEA for use against NPT signatories.

      What do lawyers here think?

      • I’m not a “lawyer here” BUT the IAEA has no legal restrictions on what “evidence” it can see. The question is, what is the authority of the IAEA. If the IAEA has enough evidence that a country is running an undeclared nuclear site, then it can go to the Board and get “special inspections” — however beyond that, the IAEA has no authority to make demands on a signatory to DISprove allegations….in the specific case of Iran, allegations based on documents that the IAEA has not fully shared with Iran, and in some cases the IAEA itself has not been allowed to see.

      • Don Bacon says:

        First, I reject the suggestion that we ordinary mortals can’t read documents and determine legality.

        The IAEA is not some super-snooper intelligence agency with unlimited authority to demand that Iran (or any country) answer to unsubstantiated Western charges regarding smoking laptops, electrical switches and military facilities, and also centrifuge modernity is outside IAEA legal purview.

        The IAEA should only be concerned with diversion as stated in the NPT:
        “Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agencys safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

        ** for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion **
        Of course the IAEA has continually found Iran to be in compliance regarding non-diversion.

      • yousaf says:

        Thank you but my question was more I suppose to do with the spirit of the NPT where it seems to me non-NPT members were to be treated as pariahs states.

        Is it people’s feeling that non-NPT member states leaking (perhaps concocted) intel on NPT states (possibly leading to their bombing) is consistent with the spirit of the NPT?

      • I think it’s fairly clear – outside of any legality – that the circumstance of Israel making complaints to the IAEA about Iran is fundamentally a joke, given Israel’s nuclear status and non-participation in the NPT (at least with regard to Dimona and its nuclear arsenal.)

        This shades over into the area of espionage, in my view. If you’re not a member of the NPT, what are you doing conducting surveillance and sending in spies to find out about an NPT member? It’s just barely legal in my view to do that stuff even if you ARE an NPT member.

        I vaguely remember that we might have had a discussion here about whether espionage is “legal” under international law. This might be relevant to that.

        Not that it matters, except for correctness, because it’s going to be done anyway. But in my view it’s absolutely shameless for espionage – and outright sabotage in Israel’s and the US’ case against Iran via malware and physical assassination – to be completely ignored in the service of trying to find some hypothetical “secret nuclear weapons facility.” Seymour Hersh exposed that US Special Forces were actually inserted into Iran and various methods were used to attempt to detect such a facility – all of which failed miserably.

        If international law is unable to reign in such activities, what good is it? It would appear to be honored in the breach rather than the observance by those powers capable of doing so.

      • yousaf says:

        Richard,
        thank you — you captured my feelings on the subject very well.

        And on that note: what to make of the Intelligence based Safeguards novelty that Amano would have member states swallow?:

        http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/10/intel_inside?page=full

      • Good question. The onus should clearly be on the countries supplying this “intel” to prove its veracity, rather than the IAEA having to either accept it at face value or do the digging to prove its veracity. If the IAEA adopted that policy I suspect a LOT of alleged “evidence” would drop to the ground very quickly, including all the “laptop of death” nonsense.

        But with the Wikileaks revelations about Amano being in the US pocket, clearly until the IAEA Board of Governors is not dominated by the West, nothing will happen to correct the situation.

        How often in the past year has the IAEA raised questions about Iran’s program in their official reports that were then debunked by people like Robert Kelley and Gareth Porter within a day of the report’s release?

        I submit the evidence is clear that the IAEA is completely compromised on the Iran case and that this issue should be raised directly by Iran – or some unbiased NPT member – in some sort of legal manner.

  3. Don Bacon says:

    Mark Hibbs in the linked FP article: “. . .the IAEA which . . . . was taken by surprise when U.S. intelligence revealed in 2009 that Iran had secretly built a uranium-enrichment plant at Fordo.”

    Actually Iran notified the IAEA of the Fordo site before it was operational, and the IAEA inspected it. Mark Hibbs is repeating totally false US propaganda, so he shouldn’t be taken seriously on anything “intelligence (i.e. propaganda) based.”

  4. Irani says:

    Yousaf: “…it strikes me as odd that NPT non-members can leak Intel (concocted or otherwise) to the IAEA for use against NPT signatories.”

    I’m not sure, but as I remember from some papers, the Agency’s Statute in the Article VIII (Exchange of information) subparagraph A may be supposed as endorser: “Each member should make available such information as would, in the judgment of the member, be helpful to the Agency.”

    Notwithstanding, the Agency has failed to adhere with the subparagraph C of the same Article in which it requires the Agency to make available that information: “The Agency shall assemble and make available in an accessible form the information made available to it under paragraphs A and B of this article. It shall take positive steps to encourage the exchange among its members of information relating to the nature and peaceful uses of atomic energy and shall serve as an intermediary among its members for this purpose.”

  5. Don Bacon says:

    The IAEA maintaining the secrecy of not only the information but the information donors is not conducive to legality.

  6. LM says:

    “ME polls of the Arabs who actually live in the area fear Israel which has nukes, and not Iran which doesn’t, but Israel refuses to sign the NPT and allow full inspection. Iran has often called for the ME to be nuclear-weapon-free.”

    Pathetic, it seems you expect that others are just fools, for the Islamic Regime propaganda must be said. And your playing Arab fear is amusing in itself since none of that is true.

    Of course if one side has the advantage of numbers it tries to leverage that.
    It is what you are doing.
    Do you think Russia will ever accept “no nukes” if Beijing or US says they are willing to have none too. No of course not. Russia nukes are a way to level playing against the 10x more population of China.

  7. Janaina Isabel Tewaney Mencomo says:

    I understand the intention of the Arab League’s boycott of non-proliferation meetings, and I find it appropriate. There are double standards in the way this matter has been dealt with in that region. Egypt has been leading the campaign for a nuclear weapon-free Middle East, however there is little commitment from countries like Israel. If Israel takes a serious step towards nuclear disarmament we will see progress in negotiations. And that is also the case in other parts of the world such as India. India has claimed to be in favour of nuclear disarmament but only if all countries engage in serious disarmament, without privileges.


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