Iran today boycotted an IAEA meeting on banning nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Israel and Arab countries, including Syria and Lebanon, participated in the two-day forum on 21-2 November.
“That both Israel and the Arab states summoned the political will to attend the IAEA session, and thus to allow it finally to take place, was a positive development," said Mark Fitzpatrick, a director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies [Reuters, 21 November].
The talks focused on the experiences of regions which have set up Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ), including Africa and Latin America, and how the Middle East can learn from them.
Israel, the region's only nuclear power, and its only country not to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has said it would sign the NPT and renounce nuclear weapons only as part of a broader Middle East peace deal with Arab states and Iran that guaranteed its security.
Syrian Ambassador Bassam Al-Sabbagh told the meeting that Israel's nuclear capabilities pose a “grave and continuous threat” to the region.
Iran said it would not take part in the meeting after the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors passed a resolution on Friday rebuking it for its atomic activities.