Middle East WMD free zone. Hans Blix in Brussels 5 November and Amman 12 November 2012

A Middle East Zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction – the subject of a Helsinki meeting projected for 2012

Some thoughts by Hans Blix

The 2010 Review Conference of the NPT urged that a meeting should be held on the subject of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East and the meeting is currently projected to take place in Helsinki in 2012. With public attention today riveted on Irans nuclear program and only rarely focused on the Israeli nuclear weapons it would be peculiar if a meeting were to be concerned only with „weapons and were to ignore the concern that Irans nuclear enrichment program might result in a weapon.

Could not the states in the Middle East – including Israel and Iran – initiate a discussion about a regional agreement under which all states in the region committed themselves not only to be without nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction but also without facilities for the enrichment of uranium or production of plutonium.

Current stalemate in discussions with Iran

It is understandable that at a moment when the Gulf is full of war ships and the air is full of speculation about attacks on Iranian nuclear installations talks aim at limited measures to lower tension. Yet, it would be unwise to focus exclusively on short term measures and neglect thinking about comprehensive approaches – the more so, as the narrow path followed has so far not led to any success. The meetings that have taken place this year between the P5+1 and Iran in Baghdad and Moscow do not seem to have yielded any rapprochement. The P 5+1 seem to have demanded substantial early Iranian concessions on the enrichment issue, while Iran has continued to hold that it will under no circumstances forego its program of enrichment.

Stalemated discussions may be affected by changes in costs and benefits.

Perceiving Iran as intransigent and unreasonable the US and the other Western parties seem unwilling to significantly increase the benefits that Iran would gain from an agreement. Instead, they seek to increase the cost for Iran of no agreement by strengthening and tightening economic sanctions and by not excluding subversive and military action. If the various parties have any conciliatory cards up their sleeves, they might prefer not to put them on the table at this stage.

From the US side there have earlier been some suggestions that after a settlement of the controversy and restoration of confidence enrichment in Iran might be envisaged long term. The Russian government has talked about a „step by step approach. It has not been rejected by Iran, but the steps do not appear to have been defined. There have also been suggestions to build on earlier schemes concerning the supply of 20 % enriched uranium fuel. Recent accusations against Iran for sending weapons to the Assad government of Syria will add a new difficulty in any near term talks between the P5+1 and Iran.

A meeting in Helsinki?

Nevertheless, the governments concerned in the Middle East region and non- governmental institutions in the region must give thought to the subject that the 2010 NPT Review Conference singled out for a meeting – a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and missiles to deliver them. Some things have already happened relating to this meeting but many issues need to be clarified and agreed before it is to take place. Helsinki has been chosen as the venue and a Finnish diplomat has been appointed „facilitator. The date of the conference seems likely to be toward the end of December and the duration contemplated seems to be less than a week.

The list of participants and the agenda need be agreed in advance or else these matters could derail the conference at the outset. As we know from agreements about other weapon free zones, it is above all the countries that form the region and that are ready to make commitments that should be present. In the case of the Middle East, the selection of most candidates for participation will not raise questions. In some cases there may be discussion.

Turkey has not traditionally been seen as a part of the Middle East. Yet, as a state aspiring to use nuclear power and with significant influence in the area its active participation in the conference – and potentially in a zone – could be practically important. Its membership in the NATO alliance could be a complicating factor. A possible zone commitment to be free of nuclear weapons would hardly be incompatible with NATO guarantees of protection against nuclear attacks („nuclear umbrella). Even though the hosting of nuclear weapons under NATO has not been judged incompatible with the obligations under the NPT, the hosting of such weapons in a nuclear weapon free zone would be a different matter. The idea of moving all NATO nuclear weapons to US territory has been under discussion within the alliance.

However, it seems currently to be shelved.

It may have appeared almost axiomatic that the meeting requested by the 2010 NPT Review Conference would have to have the participation of both Iran and Israel. It is true that a zone agreement that either of these countries refused to join would have limited meaning and would probably not be made. However, this is not the same as saying that the absence of one or both of these states at the meeting now projected would deprive it of meaning. Indeed, making the convocation of the meeting dependent upon their participation would be to make it hostage to conditions that either of them could advance. It might be wiser for the states that are ready to meet, to do so and exchange ideas about concepts and features that they consider possible and desirable. It could be left to states that might have chosen to stay outside the meeting to consider under what conditions they might join further sessions that might be scheduled.

At the present time it is not known whether Israel and Iran are ready to participate in a meeting in 2012. At a juncture when the Israeli government wants to create the impression of a readiness to launch an armed attack against Iran a positive response might look like a conciliatory step and therefore seems unlikely.

For the Iranian government logic might suggest a positive response, given that Iran does not have nuclear weapons, that it sees the possession of nuclear weapons as incompatible with its religious faith and principles and that it has a declared positive attitude to global nuclear disarmament.

The absence of either Israel or Iran from the conference would have some significant drawbacks but could also eliminate road blocks. It might be assumed that Israel would argue that only confidence flowing from a Middle East peace agreement would make a zone viable, while Iran might argue that nuclear fuel cycle activities permitted under the NPT should not be discussed. Neither posture would help the search for early accommodation and compromise.

Whatever the participation in the Helsinki conference, it would seem important that likeminded regional states that do not have the strong vested interests that characterize Israel and Iran get together and define on what lines they think the zone should be built – taking into reasonable account the interest of Israel and Iran as they see them and understand them. While initiatives and pressures by outsiders might well be negatively perceived, regional states that neither have nuclear weapons nor fuel cycle activities might stand a somewhat better chance of finding lines that are acceptable to themselves and take into account the security and other interests of all in the region. The Gulf States and the Gulf States Council could be well placed to take on this delicate task before, during and after a Helsinki conference.

It has been rightly noted by many commentators that the conference in Helsinki should not be seen as a onetime event. Indeed, it is likely to be convoked for a rather short period of time – perhaps a week or even less. This would hardly be more than what is needed for the launching of some ideas and agreement to explore them in further meetings.

What concept of a zone free of nuclear weapons (leaving for the moment the other wmd and missiles aside) could be contemplated?

We do not start with a blank page. The idea of a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East was advanced by Iran and Egypt in 1974 in the General Assembly of the UN. It has been on the table since then and even had consensus support. Originally, the zone concept was clearly rooted in the view that Israel should be brought into the wave of regional states that renounced nuclear weapons. While registering its support for the concept, Israel has always stated that such a zone can only materialize when peace has been established in the region.

Like the NPT zonal treaties – as we know them – aim at eliminating nuclear weapons. However, while they need to be compatible with the NPT they may differ from that treaty in several respects, apart from the geographical limitation. For instance, the NPT becomes binding for each state as it adheres, irrespective of what other states do. All Arab states and Iran and Turkey have adhered to the NPT and are bound by it, but Israel has not adhered, is not bound by it and is assumed to have many nuclear weapons.

The entry into force of a zonal treaty may – as in the case of the Tlatelolco Treaty – be made dependent upon all parties in a specific geographic region adhering. It may also contain many different features that do not figure in the NPT. It may have systems of verification that differ from or go beyond NPT type IAEA inspection, for instance, allowing parties challenge inspections, allowing national inspectors to participate in the verification process etc. A zone treaty could also create a legal basis for active cooperation (MidEastAtom?) in the development and use of nuclear energy, for instance regarding jointly owned nuclear reactors for the generation of power or the desalination of water or for the disposal sites for nuclear waste.

Non-proliferation and the nuclear fuel cycle

While the zonal treaty for the Middle East has been on the international agenda for a long time, what has lately given it much attention has less to do with Israels weapons than with the concern that Iran is developing a fuel cycle program, including the construction and operation of plants for the enrichment of uranium. Although Iran, itself, denies any intention to make nuclear weapons, many suspect that this is the intention. Whatever the reality, the program is making Iran a „near nuclear weapon state and it is feared that other states in the region might emulate Irans example, which would further raise tensions in the region

.

It is true, as often stressed by Iran that the NPT raises no obstacles to states that want to build fuel cycle installations – such as enrichment plants – for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Japan that had over 50 nuclear power plants operating has both enrichment and reprocessing plants linked to its large peaceful nuclear power capacity. Brazil with only a few nuclear power plants has also developed a capacity to enrich uranium. Unlike Iran, neither Japan, nor Brazil has met international objections.

It is clear that there would be little support in the international community for any international agreement – whether in the shape of a separate convention or an amendment to the NPT – under which states would renounce enrichment or reprocessing activities (perhaps for a specific period of time) in the interest of avoiding that any one becomes a „near nuclear weapon state. States like Canada, Australia, Namibia, South Africa or Jordan with large uranium ore resources might want at least to keep the option open of not only mining the raw material but also of enriching it for export sales.

At the same time there is understandable skepticism against a wide-spread construction of fuel cycle installations in the world, especially as the global capacity for enrichment and reprocessing seems ample to respond to needs expected in the near future. Every petrol consuming nation does not need anoil refinery of its own and every state that uses uranium as fuel for nuclear power reactors does not need an enrichment plant of its own.

It is also clear that enrichment – or reprocessing – plants in sensitive regions may be likely to raise concern and even suspicion. The NPT that in principle leaves states freedom to develop capacities for enrichment and reprocessing does not oblige them to use this freedom. They can – if they wish – commit themselves to limitations on it for longer or shorter periods of time. Thus, Undoubtedly with a view to creating mutual confidence, North and South Korea agreed in their Denuclearization Declaration of 1991 to forego the construction both of enrichment and reprocessing plants. The declaration may no longer have legal relevance, but it provides an interesting precedent: states can agree between themselves to renounce some activities (in this case enrichment) that are open to them and that could be misused. They are obviously free to make any such agreement without any time limitation or for a specified period of time. Although the parties alone will be bound by such an agreement, they may feel a need for guarantees from third states regarding the supply of fuel for nuclear power plants that they operate.

The Middle East and the nuclear fuel cycle

States in the Middle East region might find it worth considering whether there would be benefit in agreeing on a zone free not only of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and missiles but also of fuel cycle activities – notably enrichment and reprocessing plants.

Iran might initially respond that nothing could move the country from exercising its right under the NPT to make the full use of nuclear energy, including the right to a programme for the enrichment of uranium. It is true that Iran does not seem to have been tempted to abandon enrichment by offers of investments, support to become a member of the World Trade Organization, assistance to expand its civilian nuclear power program, confirmation of the protection against armed attacks etc. The outside world has had and still has difficulty in understanding this rigid attachment to a programme that can hardly be economic and that can hardly ensure long term nuclear fuel independence. While many conclude that the ultimate aim of the program is to make a nuclear weapon or at least to make Iran a near nuclear weapon state, another explanation for the rigid position could be that continuation of the programme is above all a matter of national pride.

At the non-governmental level some experts starting from the premise that nothing could move Iran to abandon the enrichment program, have suggested acceptance of Iranian enrichment with maximum transparency, international inspection and perhaps international participation. While such arrangements could give reasonably early warning in case of an Iranian break out, it could not physically prevent it. Inspectors could be thrown out and installations could be nationalized. While certainly not without value there would be limitations in the confidence that could flow from such an arrangement. It might not be enough to discourage enrichment programs among neighbors.

A zone free of both nuclear weapons and fuel cycle installations A zonal agreement under which Iran would commit itself to completely suspend its program for the enrichment of uranium (and other fuel cycle services) for a specific, rather long period of time, under which other states in the region would commit themselves to forego enrichment for the same period and under which Israel would commit itself to do away with its nuclear weapons, stocks of fissionable material and production capacity, might be a different matter. It would fit into Irans declared wish to promote nuclear disarmament. Having been accused of being a country that threatens the non-proliferation regime and that deserves isolation Iran would get the credit for helping to consolidate non-proliferation in the region and even helping to bring tangible and long sought nuclear disarmament.

Israel would undoubtedly initially reject any suggestion that would remove a nuclear capacity that it has regarded as a life insurance. Israels ambition to remain the only de facto nuclear weapon state in the region has been displayed through the attack on Osiraq in 1981, the attack in 2007 on Syrian installations and by the threat of attacks on Iranian installations. Is this line of action deemed sustainable or is it possible that Israel could conclude that it might better for its security, if the country took the cost of doing away with its own – not acknowledged – nuclear weapons and capacity to make such weapons and gained the benefit that no other states in the region would become even a near nuclear weapon state?

There can be no illusions about the difficulties that would have to be solved in designing and getting agreement about a zone as suggested above. However, the difficulties might be even greater in the construction of a zone renouncing only the weapons – leaving the fuel cycle untouched. It is implausible that Israel would go along with eliminating its nuclear weapons and leave Iranian enrichment untouched.

Many problems would have to be overcome. The supply of uranium fuel required for non-weapons related activities like power plants would have to be assured and guaranteed from the outside world. Arrangements for effective inspection going beyond IAEA safeguards would have to be drawn up. Security guarantees might be needed. Steps by P 5 states toward nuclear disarmament would facilitate regional action. The exact geographical scope of a zone would need to be defined.

“Weapons” are the explicit object of discussion at the projected Helsinki meeting. The Chemical Weapons Convention has a definition of chemical weapons, but the NPT does not define nuclear weapons. It should be made clear that not only deployed nuclear weapons, but also non-deployed weapons, weapons ready material and installations to make the material can be covered in a zone agreement. It would seem politically inconceivable at the present time to focus on Israels nuclear weapons and forget Irans enrichment, and it would seem equally impossible to consider Irans growing enrichment and near nuclear weapon status and forgetting that Israel has hundreds of nuclear war heads.

Middle East WMD free zone. Hans Blix in Brussels 5 Nov and Amman 12
Nov 2012

A Middle East Zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction – the subject
of a Helsinki meeting projected for 2012

Some thoughts by Hans Blix

The 2010 Review Conference of the NPT urged that a meeting should be
held on the subject of a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the
Middle East and the meeting is currently projected to take place in Helsinki
in 2012. With public attention today riveted on Iran‟s nuclear program and
only rarely focused on the Israeli nuclear weapons it would be peculiar if a
meeting were to be concerned only with „weapons‟ and were to ignore the
concern that Iran‟s nuclear enrichment program might result in a weapon.

Could not the states in the Middle East – including Israel and Iran – initiate a
discussion about a regional agreement under which all states in the region
committed themselves not only to be without nuclear and other weapons of
mass destruction but also without facilities for the enrichment of uranium or
production of plutonium.

Current stalemate in discussions with Iran

It is understandable that at a moment when the Gulf is full of war ships and
the air is full of speculation about attacks on Iranian nuclear installations
talks aim at limited measures to lower tension. Yet, it would be unwise to
focus exclusively on short term measures and neglect thinking about
comprehensive approaches – the more so, as the narrow path followed has so
far not led to any success. The meetings that have taken place this year
between the P5+1 and Iran in Baghdad and Moscow do not seem to have
yielded any rapprochement. The P 5+1 seem to have demanded substantial
early Iranian concessions on the enrichment issue, while Iran has continued
to hold that it will under no circumstances forego its program of enrichment.

Stalemated discussions may be affected by changes in costs and benefits.
Perceiving Iran as intransigent and unreasonable the US and the other
Western parties seem unwilling to significantly increase the benefits that
Iran would gain from an agreement. Instead, they seek to increase he cost
for Iran of no agreement by strengthening and tightening economic sanctions

and by not excluding subversive and military action. If the various parties
have any conciliatory cards up their sleeves, they might prefer not to put
them on the table at this stage.

From the US side there have earlier been some suggestions that after a
settlement of the controversy and restoration of confidence enrichment in
Iran might be envisaged long term. The Russian government has talked
about a „step by step‟ approach. It has not been rejected by Iran, but the steps
do not appear to have been defined. There have also been suggestions to
build on earlier schemes concerning the supply of 20 % enriched uranium
fuel. Recent accusations against Iran for sending weapons to the Assad
government of Syria will add a new difficulty in any near term talks between
the P5+1 and Iran.

A meeting in Helsinki?

Nevertheless, the governments concerned in the Middle East region and non-
governmental institutions in the region must give thought to the subject that
the 2010 NPT Review Conference singled out for a meeting – a Middle East
zone free of weapons of mass destruction and missiles to deliver them. Some
things have already happened relating to this meeting but many issues need
to be clarified and agreed before it is to take place. Helsinki has been chosen
as the venue and a Finnish diplomat has been appointed „facilitator‟. The
date of the conference seems likely to be toward the end of December and
the duration contemplated seems to be less than a week.

The list of participants and the agenda need be agreed in advance or else
these matters could derail the conference at the outset. As we know from
agreements about other weapon free zones, it is above all the countries that
form the region and that are ready to make commitments that should be
present. In the case of the Middle East, the selection of most candidates for
participation will not raise questions. In some cases there may be discussion.

Turkey has not traditionally been seen as a part of the Middle East. Yet, as a
state aspiring to use nuclear power and with significant influence in the area
its active participation in the conference – and potentially in a zone — could
be practically important. Its membership in the NATO alliance could be a
complicating factor. A possible zone commitment to be free of nuclear
weapons would hardly be incompatible with NATO guarantees of protection
against nuclear attacks („nuclear umbrella). Even though the hosting of

nuclear weapons under NATO has not been judged incompatible with the
obligations under the NPT, the hosting of such weapons in a nuclear weapon
free zone would be a different matter. The idea of moving all NATO nuclear
weapons to US territory has been under discussion within the alliance.
However, it seems currently to be shelved.

It may have appeared almost axiomatic that the meeting requested by the
2010 NPT Review Conference would have to have the participation of both
Iran and Israel. It is true that a zone agreement that either of these countries
refused to join would have limited meaning and would probably not be
made. However, this is not the same as saying that the absence of one or
both of these states at the meeting now projected would deprive it of
meaning. Indeed, making the convocation of the meeting dependent upon
their participation would be to make it hostage to conditions that either of
them could advance. It might be wiser for the states that are ready to meet, to
do so and exchange ideas about concepts and features that they consider
possible and desirable. It could be left to states that might have chosen to
stay outside the meeting to consider under what conditions they might join
further sessions that might be scheduled.

At the present time it is not known whether Israel and Iran are ready to
participate in a meeting in 2012. At a juncture when the Israeli government
wants to create the impression of a readiness to launch an armed attack
against Iran a positive response might look like a conciliatory step and
therefore seems unlikely.

For the Iranian government logic might suggest a positive response, given
that Iran does not have nuclear weapons, that it sees the possession of
nuclear weapons as incompatible with its religious faith and principles and
that it has a declared positive attitude to global nuclear disarmament.

The absence of either Israel or Iran from the conference would have some
significant drawbacks but could also eliminate road blocks. It might be
assumed that Israel would argue that only confidence flowing from a Middle
East peace agreement would make a zone viable, while Iran might argue that
nuclear fuel cycle activities permitted under the NPT should not be
discussed. Neither posture would help the search for early accommodation
and compromise.

Whatever the participation in the Helsinki conference, it would seem
important that likeminded regional states that do not have the strong vested
interests that characterize Israel and Iran get together and define on what
lines they think the zone should be built – taking into reasonable account the
interest of Israel and Iran as they see them and understand them. While
initiatives and pressures by outsiders might well be negatively perceived,
regional states that neither have nuclear weapons nor fuel cycle activities
might stand a somewhat better chance of finding lines that are acceptable to
themselves and take into account the security and other interests of all in the
region. The Gulf States and the Gulf States Council could be well placed to
take on this delicate task before, during and after a Helsinki conference.

It has been rightly noted by many commentators that the conference in
Helsinki should not be seen as a one time event. Indeed, it is likely to be
convoked for a rather short period of time – perhaps a week or even less.
This would hardly be more than what is needed for the launching of some
ideas and agreement to explore them in further meetings.

What concept of a zone free of nuclear weapons (leaving for the moment the
other wmd and missiles aside) could be contemplated?

We do not start with a blank page. The idea of a nuclear weapon free zone in
the Middle East was advanced by Iran and Egypt in 1974 in the General
Assembly of the UN. It has been on the table since then and even had
consensus support. Originally, the zone concept was clearly rooted in the
view that Israel should be brought into the wave of regional states that
renounced nuclear weapons. While registering its support for the concept,
Israel has always stated that such a zone can only materialize when peace
has been established in the region.

Like the NPT zonal treaties – as we know them – aim at eliminating nuclear
weapons. However, while they need to be compatible with the NPT they
may differ from that treaty in several respects, apart from the geographical
limitation. For instance, the NPT becomes binding for each state as it
adheres, irrespective of what other states do. All Arab states and Iran and
Turkey have adhered to the NPT and are bound by it, but Israel has not
adhered, is not bound by it and is assumed to have many nuclear weapons.

The entry into force of a zonal treaty may – as in the case of the Tlatelolco
Treaty – be made dependent upon all parties in a specific geographic region

adhering. It may also contain many different features that do not figure in
the NPT. It may have systems of verification that differ from or go beyond
NPT type IAEA inspection, for instance, allowing parties challenge
inspections, allowing national inspectors to participate in the verification
process etc. A zone treaty could also create a legal basis for active
cooperation (MidEastAtom?) in the development and use of nuclear energy,
for instance regarding jointly owned nuclear reactors for the generation of
power or the desalination of water or for the disposal sites for nuclear waste.

Non-proliferation and the nuclear fuel cycle

While the zonal treaty for the Middle East has been on the international
agenda for a long time, what has lately given it much attention has less to do
with Israel‟s weapons than with the concern that Iran is developing a fuel
cycle program, including the construction and operation of plants for the
enrichment of uranium. Although Iran, itself, denies any intention to make
nuclear weapons, many suspect that this is the intention. Whatever the
reality, the program is making Iran a „near nuclear weapon state‟ and it is
feared that other states in the region might emulate Iran‟s example, which
would further raise tensions in the region
.
It is true, as often stressed by Iran that the NPT raises no obstacles to states
that want to build fuel cycle installations – such as enrichment plants – for
the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Japan that had over 50 nuclear power
plants operating has both enrichment and reprocessing plants linked to its
large peaceful nuclear power capacity. Brazil with only a few nuclear power
plants has also developed a capacity to enrich uranium. Unlike Iran, neither
Japan, nor Brazil has met international objections.

It is clear that there would be little support in the international community
for any international agreement – whether in the shape of a separate
convention or an amendment to the NPT – under which states would
renounce enrichment or reprocessing activities (perhaps for a specific period
of time) in the interest of avoiding that any one becomes a „near nuclear
weapon state‟. States like Canada, Australia, Namibia, South Africa or
Jordan with large uranium ore resources might want at least to keep the
option open of not only mining the raw material but also of enriching it for
export sales.

At the same time there is understandable skepticism against a wide-spread
construction of fuel cycle installations in the world, especially as the global
capacity for enrichment and reprocessing seems ample to respond to needs
expected in the near future. Every petrol consuming nation does not need an
oil refinery of its own and every state that uses uranium as fuel for nuclear
power reactors does not need an enrichment plant of its own.

It is also clear that enrichment – or reprocessing – plants in sensitive regions
may be likely to raise concern and even suspicion. The NPT that in principle
leaves states freedom to develop capacities for enrichment and reprocessing
does not oblige them to use this freedom. They can – if they wish – commit
themselves to limitations on it for longer or shorter periods of time. Thus,
Undoubtedly with a view to creating mutual confidence, North and South
Korea agreed in their Denuclearization Declaration of 1991 to forego the
construction both of enrichment and reprocessing plants. The declaration
may no longer have legal relevance, but it provides an interesting precedent:
states can agree between themselves to renounce some activities (in this case
enrichment) that are open to them and that could be misused. They are
obviously free to make any such agreement without any time limitation or
for a specified period of time. Although the parties alone will be bound by
such an agreement, they may feel a need for guarantees from third states
regarding the supply of fuel for nuclear power plants that they operate.

The Middle East and the nuclear fuel cycle

States in the Middle East region might find it worth considering whether
there would be benefit in agreeing on a zone free not only of nuclear and
other weapons of mass destruction and missiles but also of fuel cycle
activities – notably enrichment and reprocessing plants.

Iran might initially respond that nothing could move the country from
exercising its right under the NPT to make the full use of nuclear energy,
including the right to a programme for the enrichment of uranium. It is true
that Iran does not seem to have been tempted to abandon enrichment by
offers of investments, support to become a member of the World Trade
Organization, assistance to expand its civilian nuclear power program,
confirmation of the protection against armed attacks etc. The outside world
has had and still has difficulty in understanding this rigid attachment to a
programme that can hardly be economic and that can hardly ensure long
term nuclear fuel independence. While many conclude that the ultimate aim

of the program is to make a nuclear weapon or at least to make Iran a near
nuclear weapon state, another explanation for the rigid position could be that
continuation of the programme is above all a matter of national pride.

At the non-governmental level some experts starting from the premise that
nothing could move Iran to abandon the enrichment program, have
suggested acceptance of Iranian enrichment with maximum transparency,
international inspection and perhaps international participation. While such
arrangements could give reasonably early warning in case of an Iranian
break out, it could not physically prevent it. Inspectors could be thrown out
and installations could be nationalized. While certainly not without value
there would be limitations in the confidence that could flow from such an
arrangement. It might not be enough to discourage enrichment programs
among neighbors.

A zone free of both nuclear weapons and fuel cycle installations

A zonal agreement under which Iran would commit itself to completely
suspend its program for the enrichment of uranium (and other fuel cycle
services) for a specific, rather long period of time, under which other states
in the region would commit themselves to forego enrichment for the same
period and under which Israel would commit itself to do away with its
nuclear weapons, stocks of fissionable material and production capacity,
might be a different matter. It would fit into Iran‟s declared wish to promote
nuclear disarmament. Having been accused of being a country that threatens
the non-proliferation regime and that deserves isolation Iran would get the
credit for helping to consolidate non-proliferation in the region and even
helping to bring tangible and long sought nuclear disarmament.

Israel would undoubtedly initially reject any suggestion that would remove a
nuclear capacity that it has regarded as a life insurance. Israel‟s ambition to
remain the only de facto nuclear weapon state in the region has been
displayed through the attack on Osiraq in 1981, the attack in 2007 on Syrian
installations and by the threat of attacks on Iranian installations. Is this line
of action deemed sustainable or is it possible that Israel could conclude that
it might better for its security, if the country took the cost of doing away
with its own – not acknowledged – nuclear weapons and capacity to make
such weapons and gained the benefit that no other states in the region would
become even a near nuclear weapon state?

There can be no illusions about the difficulties that would have to be solved
in designing and getting agreement about a zone as suggested above.
However, the difficulties might be even greater in the construction of a zone
renouncing only the weapons – leaving the fuel cycle untouched. It is
implausible that Israel would go along with eliminating its nuclear weapons
and leave Iranian enrichment untouched.

Many problems would have to be overcome. The supply of uranium fuel
required for non-weapons related activities like power plants would have to
be assured and guaranteed from the outside world. Arrangements for
effective inspection going beyond IAEA safeguards would have to be drawn
up. Security guarantees might be needed. Steps by P 5 states toward nuclear
disarmament would facilitate regional action. The exact geographical scope
of a zone would need to be defined.

“Weapons” are the explicit object of discussion at the projected Helsinki
meeting. The Chemical Weapons Convention has a definition of chemical
weapons, but the NPT does not define nuclear weapons. It should be made
clear that not only deployed nuclear weapons, but also non-deployed
weapons, weapons ready material and installations to make the material can
be covered in a zone agreement. It would seem politically inconceivable at
the present time to focus on Israel‟s nuclear weapons and forget Iran‟s
enrichment, and it would seem equally impossible to consider Iran‟s
growing enrichment and near nuclear weapon status and forgetting that
Israel has hundreds of nuclear war heads.