Fear of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East

‘How does the fear of Weapons of Mass Destruction dominate daily life in the Middle East?’ This was the main question on Wednesday October 31 during a debate organized by the No Nukes team and Middle East team of IKV Pax Christi. At Humanity House in the Hague more than 50 people gathered to listen to the experiences of four experts on disarmament issues in the Middle East. 

Susi Snyder (Programme leader Nuclear Disarmament at IKV Pax Christi) and Jan Jaap van Oosterzee (Middle-East specialist at IKV Pax Christi), two experts in the field of nuclear disarmament and the Middle East, talked about the current problems in the Middle East. Sharon Dolev (Israel Disarmament Movement) and Shahriar Khateri (Co-founder Tehran Peace Museum, IPPNW) were also invited to share their stories with the audience.

Sharon Dolev, head of the Israeli disarmament movement, is committed to greater openness about the Israeli nuclear weapons program. From her own experience with nuclear weapons in Israel, she described what it is like to be a mother in a country where the threat of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction is the order of the day. She described how important and open dialogue on these issues in her country is as a way to pave the path for diplomacy.

Shahriar Khateri, an Iranian doctor and co-founder of the Tehran Peace Museum, has experienced at first hand what it means to live in a region where weapons of mass destruction has been used merely. Shahriar has been involved in the treatment of casualties due to chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war. He noted that there is a need to address weapons of mass destruction threats not only in the Middle East but also globally.

During the discussions between the speakers and the audience one thing became clear: There is an urgent need for a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East.