Print Page

Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone 

Sections

General Provisions

Current Status

Documents

References and Links

General Provisions
The Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (MENWFZ) is a longstanding, United Nations-driven proposal to prohibit nuclear weapons in the Middle East.  On December 9, 1974, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 3236 calling for a MENWFZ.  Since then, many other resolutions have been introduced to reach the same accord.  The establishment of the Arms Control and Regional Security (ARCS) working group at the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference provided a multilateral mechanism to move the international community toward a MENWFZ.  However, the ARCS talks collapsed in 1995 as a result of Israeli opposition.  Israel maintained that an Israeli-Arab peace settlement must be a pre-condition for a NWFZ in the region, and Israel would only support such an effort as the final component of a comprehensive Middle East peace arrangement.


At the 1995 NPT Review Conference, the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia introduced a resolution, agreed upon by all NPT parties, endorsing a NWFZ in the Middle East.  The resolution sets forth the following objectives:  (1) the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East; (2) the accession to the NPT by any state in the region that has not yet done so; (3) and the application of full-scope IAEA safeguards to all nuclear facilities in the Middle East.

Current Status
At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the Treaty parties formulated an action plan for the establishment of “a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.”  The final document of the 2010 Review Conference calls for the UN Secretary-General, the co-sponsors of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, as well as states of the region, to convene a conference in 2012 on the establishment of a MENWFZ.  The document also calls for the appointment of a facilitator to aid in the implementation of the 1995 Resolution and to prepare for the 2012 Conference.  The 2012 Conference would require attendance by all states of the Middle East.  The final document of the Review Conference also singles out Israel in calling for “all States in the Middle East that have not yet done so to accede to the [NPT] as non-nuclear weapon States so as to achieve its universality at an early date.”  Israel has openly rejected the resolution, calling it “deeply flawed and hypocritical”; Israel has stated that it would not take part in the resolution’s implementation (Lederer, 2010).

References and Links
Crail, P. (2010, June). NPT Parties Agree on Middle East Meeting. Arms Control Today. Retrieved from http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_06/NPTMideast

Lederer, E. M. (2010, May 29). Your request is being processed... Israel Key To Conference On Banning Nuclear Weapons. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/29/israel-key-to-conference-_n_594394.html

Regehr, E. (2010, May 31). Towards action on the Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. CIGI - The Centre for International Governance Innovation. Retrieved from http://www.cigionline.org/blogs/2010/5/towards-action-middle-east-nuclear-weapons-free-zone

Schenker, H. (2010). A Nuclear Free Zone in the Middle East: the Background. Palestine-Israel Journal, 16(34). Retrieved from http://www.pij.org/current.php