Thursday, February 09, 2006

Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone Key to IAEA Vote and to Resolving Iran Tensions

SILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 7 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board on Saturday voted 27-3 to refer a complaint about Iran's resumption of nuclear research to the UN Security Council. The vote went through only after a compromise by the US, which agreed to wording backing a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East. Peace Action issued a call for NWFZ in the Middle East in January (http://www.peace-action.org) and welcomes the progress that the IAEA resolution including a NFWZ represents.
"The United States must take seriously this commitment and re- open negotiations seeking establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. Such negotiations are the best way- perhaps the only way-to prevent a nuclear arms race in this deeply troubled region. This sort of diplomatic solution also offers the Bush administration the chance to avoid the mistakes in Iran that they made when they invaded Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction," said Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action. As the best intelligence estimates indicate that it would take Iran at least five years to develop a nuclear weapon there is ample time for the United States and the IAEA to conduct successful negotiations.
Unilateral concessions currently sought by the Bush administration are less likely to succeed than similar efforts proposed by Peace Action and affiliated organizations that achieve the goal of Iranian disarmament within the context of a regional disarmament agreement. Such an agreement would necessarily also target Israel as the sole remaining nuclear power within the Middle East. After refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty or place its nuclear facilities under IAEA inspection as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 487, other Middle Eastern countries continue to assert that Israel's nuclear arsenal poses a threat to their security and provokes nuclear proliferation. Negotiations aimed at freeing the Middle East of all nuclear weapons would address this issue.
"The administration should not let their penchant for sanctions and military solutions to complex problems foreclose this opportunity to rid the Middle East of destabilizing and dangerous nuclear programs through multilateral diplomacy. The wide support in the Middle East and Europe for negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone offer the Bush administration an opportunity to re-establish diplomatic leadership on non- proliferation in the Middle East and resolve the tensions with Iran within the context of a regional security solution," concluded Martin.
Peace Action is the country's largest peace and disarmament organization and is the merger of The Nuclear Freeze and Sane. Web: http://www.peace-action.org
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/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

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