News / Middle East

Iran Skips Talks on Nuclear Free Mideast

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano of Japan waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna, Austria, November 17, 2011.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano of Japan waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna, Austria, November 17, 2011.

Amid the turmoil of this year's Arab Spring protests and concerns over Iran's nuclear program, representatives of Israel and some Arab states are in Vienna for talks about a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East. 

Hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the two-day meeting on creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East has been in the works for years. In opening remarks, the IAEA's director general, Yukiya Amano, said there is broad international support for such a zone -- and he hoped the forum would help promote dialogue.

"But, among countries of the Middle East region and beyond, there are also long-standing differences of view related to the establishment of such a zone and the application of comprehensive agency safeguards to all nuclear activities in the region," Amano said.

The idea has precedence. Nuclear-weapon-free zones have been established in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the South Pacific and parts of Asia. But the Middle East is particularly problematic.

Israel is the only country in the region that has not joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- and it has neither confirmed nor denied the widespread belief that it has nuclear weapons.  Israel says will join the NPT only when there is a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement.  And evidence appears to be mounting that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, with a new IAEA report strongly suggesting a military dimension to Tehran's nuclear activities.

But Malcolm Chalmers, research director at the London-based Royal United Services Institute, believes the Vienna meeting serves a purpose. "There is concern that unless there is vigorous arms control pressure, unless Iran is prevented in one way or another - or decides not to acquire nuclear weapons - we could have a situation in 20 years time in which there are many nuclear weapons states in the Middle East," he stated.

Chalmers says just having the various actors around the table is a plus, since some Middle Eastern nations -- like Iran - don't even recognize Israel's right to exist. But Iran said on Friday it would not attend the Vienna meeting.  It's not yet clear how many Arab countries are attending.

Still, Chalmers discounts writing off the concept of a nuclear-free Middle East. This year's Arab Spring has uprooted many certainties.

"The Arab Spring - actually precisely because the outcome is so uncertain -- we really don't know where we're going to be in six months time, never mind 10 years - that things which might not have been conceivable three or four years ago, perhaps should be back on the agenda," Chambers stated.

The forum is a precursor to another international meeting in Finland next year, aimed at ridding the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More