Israel, Arab Nations Reconvene Talks on Mideast WMD Ban

Global Security Newswire Staff
March 10, 2014, 10:33 a.m.

Middle East­ern na­tions held a third meet­ing to weigh hold­ing a con­fer­ence on a po­ten­tial re­gion­al un­con­ven­tion­al-arms ban, the Wall Street Journ­al re­ports.

The Feb­ru­ary gath­er­ing in Gli­on, Switzer­land, ap­peared un­likely to lead to yield rap­id pro­gress to­ward a pro­posed con­fer­ence on es­tab­lish­ing a Middle East­ern weapons of mass de­struc­tion-free zone, ac­cord­ing to a source who took part. Last month’s dis­cus­sion took place un­der the lead­er­ship of Finnish dip­lo­mat Jaakko Laa­java, the U.N.-backed fa­cil­it­at­or of ef­forts to con­vene the re­gion­al con­fer­ence sought in 2010 by Nuc­le­ar Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty mem­ber na­tions.

Des­pite the dia­logue’s ap­par­ent lack of short-term pro­spects, the source and in­formed en­voys said that con­tin­ued par­ti­cip­a­tion by mid-level Is­raeli and Ar­ab del­eg­ates mer­its some de­gree of op­tim­ism.

A Middle East­ern en­voy who joined last month’s dis­cus­sion said the ex­change has “def­in­itely been use­ful.”

Is­rael has joined the pre­lim­in­ary dis­cus­sions in spite of con­cerns that Ar­ab neigh­bors could tar­get its widely as­sumed status as the re­gion’s only nuc­le­ar-armed state. Is­rael has neither con­firmed nor denied pos­sess­ing an atom­ic ar­sen­al.

Ir­an dis­patched a low-rank­ing dig­nit­ary to “ob­serve” an earli­er meet­ing in Gli­on, but no Ir­a­ni­an del­eg­ate joined the sub­sequent meet­ings. Tehran is widely sus­pec­ted of pur­su­ing a nuc­le­ar-arms cap­ab­il­ity un­der the guise of a peace­ful atom­ic pro­gram.

Is­rael and the United States have ex­pressed con­di­tion­al sup­port for a po­ten­tial re­gion­al WMD ban, but con­tend that such an ar­range­ment is un­likely in the ab­sence of a broad­er Ar­ab-Is­raeli peace ar­range­ment.

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