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

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora