Who is the biggest threat in the Mideast: Iran or Israel?

The idea for a 2016 conference on banning atomic weapons was proposed by Egypt and backed by Iran

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
Published: Updated:
Enable Read mode
100% Font Size

After negotiations and hard work at the United Nations during a conference on the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 191 signatories failed to come to a conclusion on May 22 due to disagreements over an atomic weapons ban for the Middle East.

However, the disagreement wasn’t imposed by the Middle Eastern participants at the conference and interestingly all the participating Middle Eastern countries, except Israel, stood together to push for a region free of nuclear weapons.

The idea for a 2016 conference on banning atomic weapons was proposed by Egypt and backed by Iran.

Clearly Egypt’s proposal was intended to focus attention on Israel

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Iran being member of the NPT and close to signing a possible nuclear agreement wasn’t the country that made the headlines this time around. This time it was Israel’s turn. A country which is not a NPT member and one that is widely believed to be home to such weapons.

What about Israel?

In the light of the possible solving of Iran’s nuclear file, it seems the country is opening up to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and dispelling allegations that it is planning to produce a nuclear bomb. What about Israel?

Israel never admitted or rejected to having nuclear weapons but has said it would consider joining the NPT only once at peace with its Arab neighbors and Iran. Peace is not in the near future as long as the rights of the Palestinians aren’t addressed by Israel.

While the United States and Israel say Iran’s nuclear program is the real regional threat, if this threat is dismantled, which country will be seen as the next regional threat?

Focusing attention on Israel

Clearly Egypt’s proposal was intended to focus attention on Israel even if no one officially and openly talks about it.

Haaretz newspaper reported that a senior Israeli official said “Israel feared a ‘rerun’ of what happened at the last NPT Review Conference in 2010, when Egypt succeeded in forcing the U.S. to include a section in the concluding statement that addressed Israel’s nuclear capabilities and urged it to open all of its nuclear facilities to U.N. inspections.”

Hamid Baeidinejad, General Director of Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s in Political and International Security Affairs whom has been leading Iran’s team at NPT in New York, told State News Agency IRNA that even France, Russia and China, despite disagreement they had over the final statement, didn’t confront it directly. “World and progressive Western nations all were united except the three countries, the U.S., U.K, and Canada and these countries’ direct objections relaxed China, Russia and France which couldn’t directly express themselves and object the final statement.” Baedinejad said.

A foreign diplomat at the United Nations, who wished to remain anonymous, told me that “it may be that the conference failed to reach a final statement after a month of discussions but clearly this failure showed how the world, especially the Middle Eastern countries, is united against nuclear weapons… For me as an observer, the regional animosity with Iran came from this nation’s hidden nuclear program … Once Iran cleared itself of all allegations, naturally it would become a regional partner with countries like Saudi Arabia despite the differences they have over many matters.”

U.S. Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller announced there was “no agreement” and accused some countries of undermining the negotiations.

Gottemoeller did not say which nations had tried to “cynically manipulate” the conference, though she accused Egypt and other Arab states of bringing “unrealistic and unworkable conditions” to the negotiations.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
Top Content Trending