An article in today’s Global Security Newswire suggests that incremental steps are the best approach towards a Zone Free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East. What those quoted don’t suggest are specific mechanisms to carry momentum forward after the 2012 conference on such a zone.
The article, originating in the Jordan Times, quotes a number of participants at the conference organized by the Arab Institute for International Security, where discussions on, for example the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention, or implementation of an Additional Protocol for all states in the region are noted as positive steps.
Another positive step to be considered is how the 2012 Finland conference will perhaps start a process that could lead towards a regional security mechanism. Perhaps the 2012 Conference should consider the idea of setting up a series of expert group meetings- where each state in the region would be invited to participate and send their own experts. A timetable for reporting back to meetings of States Parties, perhaps in an annual, or even semi-annual conference, could be given to these experts, as could a series of initial questions to consider. These questions could, and should, start with the most technical issues to grapple with- including verification. This would provide a place for technical progress, absent of political considerations. Then, when politics are ready to catch up, at least some of the technical groundwork will be laid.