Is the IAEA Director General Trying to Scuttle the Middle East WMD Free Zone Program?Posted: September 12, 2013
I’ve written here several times about the failure last year to hold a Middle East WMD Free Zone meeting, as was unanimously agreed to in the 2010 NPT Review Conference Final Document. See my post here, which links to other earlier posts.
While there have been many voices, including mine, pushing for a fulfillment of the promise of serious measures to be taken to bring about a ME WMD FZ, there have also been many detractors of this idea. Many such detractors, like Pierre Goldschmidt in this piece last year, write about the impracticality of the program, and the unfairness of the concept to Israel.
One of the specific arguments frequently employed by those attempting to obfuscate the scope and implementation of the concept, and thereby push for its abandonment, is that there is no clear definition of “The Middle East” as an area of states to be included in a ME WMD Free Zone. They try to complicate consideration of such a definition by arguing that it only makes sense for, particularly Turkey and Pakistan, to be included in this area – knowing that the inclusion of these states would cause huge problems to the already troubled workability of the program. The Goldschmidt piece above is a good example of this argument being made with regard to Turkey.
Fortunately, in his yearly report entitled “Application of IAEA Safeguards in the Middle East,” the IAEA Director General has, every year since 2004, provided a definition of the area to be included in a potential Middle East WMD Free Zone. That area is annually defined in this report to include:
“Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran), Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya), Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.”
This definition has provided very useful clarity on this issue, and has helped to keep arguments in favor of expanding the area relatively marginalized.
That is, until this year.
Unlike the Middle East reports for every year from 2004-2012, the footnote containing this definition of the states to be included in a potential ME WMD FZ is notably absent from the report for 2013. Compare footnote 1 of the 2011 and 2012 reports, with the 2013 report. There is no definition in the 2013 report of the states to be included in the ME WMD FZ.
What could account for this change? It’s well known that the U.S. has long resisted discussion of the ME WMD FZ concept at the IAEA — Susan Burk and her predecessors made no secret of this. So is this yet another example of DG Amano dancing to the tune played by the USG, for the reasons I explained here? Did he quietly direct that the definition be removed from the report, assuming no one would notice it, in order to take away what clarity there was on the scope of the potential ME WMD FZ, and thereby support and facilitate arguments made by Israel, and the US, and by people like Goldschmidt about how unworkable such a concept is?
I don’t know. But I can’t think of any other plausible reason for the definition to be removed. Can you?