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Interview with Dr. Chen Kane about the outcomes of the Second Session of the Conference on the establishment of the Middle East WMD-free zone and a possible participation of Israel

Dr. Chen Kane

Interview with Dr. Chen Kane, lead of the Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone at UNIDIR, the Middle East Nonproliferation Program Director at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey.

 

What are the main results of the Second Session of the Conference on the WMD free zone in the Middle East?

The second meeting included a general debate and a thematic debate which included topics related to the components of a future zone, including: principles and objectives; core obligations related to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, including verification; transparency and security measures; definitions, clarifications, consultations, and cooperation under the treaty; peaceful uses and international cooperation; institutional arrangements, entry into force and dispute settlement; and protocols including security assurances. The conference was concluded with an agreed Rules of Procedures, and a Decision to create a working committee that would continue the work of the conference intersessionally and is required to will at least two meetings before the next conference, which is planned for November 2023. The working committee will be able to create sub-committee/working groups or groups of experts if it so decides

How will the outcomes of the Second Session of the Conference on the WMD free zone in the Middle East correlate with the upcoming Review conference 2022?

Given the ME WMDFZ has been a contentious issue in many of the NPT RevCons, many NPT members hope that the steady progress produced in the two sessions the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction and would ameliorate tension around this issue in the 2022 NPT RevCon.

According to what criteria do you assess the success and the failure of the Second Session of the Conference on the WMD free zone in the Middle East?

The Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction is a process aimed to elaborate a treaty. It is a long-term objective that regional member states are just at the beginning of the process. The second conference concluded Rules of Procedures for the process as well agreed to a working committee, which could maintain discussion on outstanding issues between the sessions of the conference. Regional states are yet to agree on important conceptual issues such as the scope of the treaty as well as how to address the absence of Israel from the process.

In what case may Israel join the WMDFZ conference?

Israel expressed its position regards the Conference and based on these statements I find it hard to believe that it would join the process as currently structured. If regional states think it will be important to involve Israel in the current process of elaborating a treaty, efforts could be initiated by them to discuss with it directly what needs to happen for it to join the process. 


Imprint:

The interview was conducted by Sofya Shestakova, a PIR Center intern, on March 23, 2022

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