Middle East nuclear weapons free zone
This past Saturday at its 52nd International General Conference held in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) again called for the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East. 82 IAEA member states, including all Arab states in the region, voted in favor of the non-binding resolution; 13 nations, including Israel and the United States, abstained.
Judging from U.S. Presidential campaign rhetoric, one would think that Iran is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons. Never mind that all our intelligence agencies jointly announced last year that Iran gave up its weapons program in 2003.
Never mind also that Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons. Or that it is the only one that has refused to sign the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran and Syria, by contrast, are signatories. And as Iran has consistently pointed out, the NPT guarantees its signatories the right to seek civilian nuclear power, including uranium enrichment, in return for not seeking nuclear weapons.
U.S. foreign policy is full of blatant inconsistencies-indeed, hypocrisies-which has discredited us around the globe. But it is our gross double standard when it comes to Israel and the rest of the Middle East that most infuriates Muslims and makes some of them regard us as an enemy.
Nuclear Weapons Free Zones are an excellent idea. They are already in existence in South America and Africa, where there have been no attempts by nations to acquire nukes. And in truth nuclear weapons are good for nothing except to deter other nations from using them against yours. So they ought to be abolished entirely. An excellent place to begin abolition would be the Middle East.
Herbert Rothschild Jr.
849 Harvard St. #C
Houston, TX 77007