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Forum on Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone in the Middle East Closes

Jan Petersen

Jan Petersen, Norwegian Ambassador to the IAEA and Chairperson of the IAEA Forum on the Experience of Possible Relevance to the Creation of a Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone in the Middle East. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Nearly 100 nations concluded a two-day meeting on 22 November 2011 at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria. They discussed how the experiences of existing Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zones (NWFZs) might apply to the development of such a zone in the Middle East.

The Forum on the Experience of Possible Relevance to the Creation of a Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone in the Middle East was held in response to a request by Member States at the IAEA's General Conference in 2000 that the Director General convene a forum where participants from the Middle East and other interested parties could learn from the experiences of NWFZs in other regions.

The Forum enjoyed a positive atmosphere and frank discussion, according to Forum Chairman Ambassador Jan Petersen of Norway. "The path to a Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone in the Middle East will be long and painstaking," he said, "but I was impressed by the constructive conversation we heard over the past two days."

About 275 participants from 97 nations attended the Forum, where they heard presentations from representatives of the five existing Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zones, as well as two regional verification entities - EURATOM and the Brazil-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials (ABACC).

The Forum's proceedings are reflected in the Summary which the Chairman read at the closing of the Forum. Read the Summary here.

"There was strong support expressed for the creation of a NWFZ in the Middle East," Petersen said. "It was recognized that there was no single model for the establishment of NWFZs, but there are some significant common features of those zones which can be considered by the States of the Middle East Region."

With a view of taking forward the process of the establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East, the participants proposed:

  • to continue working towards the establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East;
  • to consider declarations of good intentions as a first step to break the current stalemate;
  • to make the best and most constructive use of every opportunity on the international agenda; and
  • to identify specific and practical confidence-building measures.

-- By Clinton Cowan, IAEA Division of Public Information


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