The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced on Sept. 2 that it would host a forum Nov. 21-22 to discuss the experiences of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones and how they “could be relevant to the Middle East.”
The forum would take place a year and a half after the parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) pledged at their 2010 review conference to hold a meeting in 2012 on creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East. (See ACT, June 2010.) In a statement during the Sept. 19-23 IAEA General Conference in Vienna, New Zealand said it saw the November forum as “an important building block” in working toward a Middle Eastern WMD-free zone.
Current and former officials from the Middle East and elsewhere have said the forum could be important as an informal precursor to the planned 2012 conference. However, the Sept. 2 announcement does not explicitly mention that conference. The IAEA event is officially called the Forum on Experience of Possible Relevance to the Creation of a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East.