By Kate Hudson
The global focus is currently on Ukraine and relations between NATO and Russia, not to mention the US and UK hostility to China via the AUKUS agreement. This is no doubt because the US readjusted its strategic framework to identify Russia and China as systemic rivals – for which read ‘the main enemies’. This ended two decades of intense focus on the Middle East and the so-called war on terror. But if the juggernaut of the West’s warmongers has moved on, the crises and catastrophes they unleashed on that region’s population remain.
The struggle for Palestinian rights continues, and so does the long running campaign for the Middle East to become a weapons of mass destruction-free zone (WMDFZ). Far from being a CND fantasy, this is actually a goal that has been pursued by states for some decades. Most recently, in December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly decided to convene a regional conference on such a zone in November 2019. All 22 Arab states and Iran participated. Four nuclear-armed states participated: China, France, Russia, and the UK. The United States and Israel did not.
The conference adopted a political statement reaffirming commitment to a legally-binding Middle East WMDFZ. A second conference took place in 2021, agreeing to bring in experts to deal with policies and technical issues. So far so good, but regional commentators say that if the Iran nuclear deal is not restored, this will act as a blight on further progress with the WMDFZ. The US is responsible for the breakdown of the Iran deal so it must take the necessary steps to restore it.
It’s vital that all the states in the region are brought to the negotiating table. Israel – the region’s only nuclear-armed state – together with the US, must engage. To do so would be a massive step forward for peace and security in the region. The UK government – which supports both the Iran deal and the WMDFZ – has to start using its ‘special relationship’ with the US to get them into action on both fronts.
To find out more and hear from activists from Iran and Israel, join CND’s Middle East conference this Sunday. Amongst other speakers, we will also hear from Andrew Feinstein about Britain’s role in the Middle East and Lindsey German about our next steps towards peace in the region.
Kate Hudson is General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
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