Athens Dialogue on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction as well as their Means of Delivery

In November 2012, La Trobe University’s Centre for Dialogue and the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) convened a regional dialogue in Athens on the proposal to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery (WMDFZ). In preparation since April 2010, the dialogue was the product of extensive consultation with key stakeholders in the Middle East as well as outside the region. Those invited to participate were drawn largely from Arab countries, Iran, Israel and Turkey. Invitations were also issued to a few others noted for their expertise or involvement in or support for the proposed UN Helsinki Conference.

It was envisaged that arising from the ‘Athens Dialogue’ a Report would be prepared setting out findings and recommendations. The report was to be forwarded to: the United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, Under-Secretary of State in Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jaakko Laajava, who is acting as the facilitator for the inter-governmental negotiations, the Russian, UK and US governments who are together the co-sponsors of the UN Helsinki Conference, and to other relevant governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. This would be done in time for the proposed Helsinki Conference which was scheduled for December 2012. In the light of subsequent US and other announcements indicating that the Helsinki Conference would be postponed, the sponsoring organisations have included in this Report a number of observations on recent developments and reflections on prospects for future dialogue and negotiations.

The Athens Dialogue produced a number of proposals which could be taken to further the goal of security in the Middle East and assist the negotiation of a WMDFZ. These proposals, which, are even more relevant in the wake of the postponement of the Helsinki Conference, are summarised and listed as Annex A, on page 59 of this Report.

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Table of Contents 

Foreword [C.G. Weeramantry]

The Political Geography of a Middle East WMDFZ

Background

Why a Track-Two/Track-Three Dialogue?

The Athens DialogueE Method and Process

The Athens Dialogue Context

Imagining the Future

The WMDFZ Proposal: The Road Travelled Thus Far

Key Obstacles to Negotiating a WMDFZ in the Middle East

Useful Practical Next Steps

Other Short- to Medium-Term Initiatives

The WMDFZ in the Wider Middle East Context

Postscript on the Athens Dialogue

Prospects and Ways Forward

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Joseph A. Camilleri, Michael Hamel-Green, Marianne Hanson, Michalis S. Michael, and N.A.J. Taylor’s co-authored book, Athens Dialogue on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction as well as their Means of Delivery, was published in English, Arabic, Farsi, and Hebrew by the European Public Law Organisation in March 2013. 

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A sample of related publication/s 

N.A.J. Taylor, Joseph A. Camilleri and Michael Hamel-Green, ‘Dialogue on Middle East biological, nuclear and chemical weapons disarmament: Constraints and opportunities’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol.38 No.1, 2013, pp.78-98. [An earlier sole-authored draft (‘Theatre of the Absurd’) was shortlisted for the Global Change, Peace & Security Award (2010) and Nonproliferation Review Award (2010).] [PDF]

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Dialogue, difference and disarmament’. Paper presented at the Middle East without Weapons of Mass Destruction: Civil Society Input Conference, World Peace Council and the Finnish Peace Committee, Helsinki, Finland, December 15, 2012. [PDF available on request]

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘The Middle East needs to be a nuclear-weapon-free zone’, Al Jazeera English, January 12, 2013. [LINK]

N.A.J. Taylor and Joseph A. Camilleri, ‘Will Australia erode or build trust with Iran?’, The Guardian, July 15, 2013. [LINK]

Public consultation on Australia’s sanctions relating to Iran, May 10, 2013. 8pp. [PDF]

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Since when has the Middle East sought to be WMD-free?’, Al Jazeera English, June 5, 2012. [LINK]

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘Iran is just the new Israel’, Al Jazeera English, March 21, 2012. [LINK]

N.A.J. Taylor, ‘The chronicles of Saddam: Robert Manne, ‘The Australian’, and Iraq’s WMD’, Al Jazeera English, March 20, 2012 [LINK]; Crikey, October 26, 2011. [LINK]