An Important Step for the Middle East

  • 30 May 2010

The agreement reached during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference 2010, in New York on Friday, undoubtedly represents an important step on the road to security and peace in the Middle East region and an imperative towards overcoming any obstacle that might emerge in the days to come. During the meet new steps were proposed towards disarmament and making the Middle East free of atomic weapons, which included a UN-backed international conference in 2012 to make the region free of weapons of mass destruction. Four major factors make this an important step. Firstly, the agreement on the Middle East was passed unanimously by 189 states signatory to the NPT, giving it immense influence. This gave a sense of the international consensus developing on the danger that such weapons pose to areas that are of great strategic importance to the global security.

The second consideration is that the agreement referred to Israel and said that it is important for the country to accede to this treaty and place all its nuclear facilities under the comprehensive safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This is bound to exert more pressure on Israel because it will subject the country to the scrutiny of a strong international position against nuclear exemption which it has enjoyed in the region. This move will also ensure that the initiative against nuclear proliferation in the Middle East gain more credibility. Another significant consideration is that this agreement represents a victory for the Arab side which worked hard during the conference to stress the importance of Israel’s accession to the treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards. This is also the first time that such an agreement has been reached during the review conference – held every five years – on a mechanism to adopt the 1995 decision to take extra efforts in making the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. This is an important leap regardless of what the Israeli stand is going to be in the times to come.

A considerable international interest is developing in the world to confront the danger of nuclear proliferation. Perhaps a strong indication of this became visible when Barak Obama inaugurated the NPT review conference, becoming the first US President to inaugurate such a conference since its inception. This was an indication of the great importance that the Obama administration attaches to nuclear proliferation and the need to confront it. The conference also came after the Global Nuclear Security Conference – which was held in Washington and was attended by 47 countries – during which several important decisions were made. These developments mean that there is an international will to work against weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation and no state can continue to ignore this phenomenon.