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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid