Joint virtual meeting of the Institute for Political and International Studies and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research titled “Views on a Middle East Free from Mass-destruction Weapons”, was held on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The meeting was attended by Mr.Majid Ghafelehbashi, Research Deputy of IPIS; Keyhan Barzegar, Professor of International Relations at IAU University; Mohammadtaghi Hosseini, Educational Deputy , and Alireza Miryousefi, Senior Expert of IPIS, on one side, and
Mr.Robin Geiss, Director of UNIDIR; Wael Al-Assad, Mr.James Revill, and Farzan Sabet, Senior Experts of the said institute.
The attendees of the meeting exchanged views in the form of three panels, “Creation of a Region Free from Nuclear Arms in Middle East: history, reasons, and present situation”, “ From a Middle East Free from Nuclear Arms to a Middle East Free from Weapons of Mass-destruction: complications, obstacles and approaches”, and “A Middle East Free from Weapons of Mass-destruction and Sustainable Regional Security: interests, and landscape”.
Here are major topics raised at the meeting:
*Iran, for the first time in 1974, raised the idea of a Middle East free from nuclear weapons at the general assembly of the UN, and was hailed by other countries of the region. But this has not materialized due to the existence of nuclear weapons of Israel and its reluctance to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, as the sole obstacle.
*The main motive for transition from a region free from nuclear weapons to a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction was the Iraqi use of chemical weapons in the Iraq- Iran war by the Saddam Hussein regime. Two major hurdles have stood in the way in the region in relation to the two subjects of achieving a sustainable regional security mechanism and creation a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction, including: 1)Trump withdrawal from the JCPOA, and the current US administration’s hesitation to rejoin the said agreement; 2) The UAE-Israel Accord (Abrahamic Accord) , which fuelled more destructive Israeli behavior in relation to the two mentioned subjects.
*In relation to the disarmament negotiations, Iran is serious at the UN, but the US and Israel are reluctant in this regard. Therefore, there have existed two major hurdles against reaching this goal in recent years, including the US not fully executing its commitments, and Israel avoiding joining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
*Paying attention to the three subjects of weapons of mass destruction, that is nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and biological weapons, considering the fast pace of developments, is urgent, and in doing so, it is necessary that the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) be strengthened.
*Potential interests resulting from a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction include: 1) It strengthens the opportunity and motivation for the regional countries for cooperation with each other, with least interference from extra-regional countries; 2) A regional framework for a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction allows the regional governments to express their security perceptions concerning the mentioned subject, also it allows them to achieve a deeper understanding of each other and their mutual concerns; 3) Creation of a Middle East free from weapons of mass destruction provides a higher level of security for the regional countries, through steps like strengthening prohibitions of obtainment and proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; 4 ) By addressing the subject of “ Spread of Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Middle East”, we can create more regional stability and predictability. This , not only per se causes non-security-related cooperation in the region, but turns the region into a more attractive region conducive to international trade, investment, and tourism, finally helping improve human security.