Iranian Foreign Ministry officials gave a boost to the efforts for a nuclear-free Middle East pact today, endorsing the plan in much the same terms as officials from rival Saudi Arabia earlier this month.
Efforts to negotiate a treaty for a fully nuclear weapons free Middle East began in the mid 90’s, but got a major shot in the arm in 2010, when the signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) endorsed a plan to hold a 2012 summit on the matter. That summit never took place.
The stumbling block for this plan is, as ever, Israel, which is the only nation in the region that has nuclear weapons. The United States initially endorsed the plan, but later insisted they “regretted” doing so, and the Obama Administration has since issued statements saying they believe a nuclear-free zone would be a “mistake” and that Israel has an inherent right to its nuclear arsenal.
Russia was the last major nation seriously pushing the summit in 2012, at which time Israel condemned the effort as “futile.” The US complained the summit would’ve unfairly singled out Israel, since it has nuclear weapons, and wouldn’t have focused enough on Iran’s civilian program.