The Middle East Treaty Organization (METO) has crafted a constantly evolving Draft Treaty to galvanise governments and civil society across the region in an inclusive process in order to promote a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free-zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East. This work is already enabling stakeholders to imagine the Zone, while bringing together diplomats and experts to discuss critical issues for its implementation. The Draft Treaty will remain a draft only, and governments, individuals, and NGOs are invited to suggest changes. We do not seek agreement on this Draft Treaty; our intention is to show that a process is possible if the political will exists.
This document contains two versions of a Draft Treaty, which have been intensively discussed over several years in round tables, workshops, and side meetings with advisors, experts, diplomats, and activists from within and outside the region. The current drafts address changes that have occurred in international non-proliferation regimes in recent years, including the establishment of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction by the UN General Assembly in 2018, and the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2021. It also follows recent discussions and processes concerning new approaches for verifying the non-proliferation of biological and chemical weapons.
The two versions of the Draft Treaty, show two possible pathways for how a WMDFZ could be implemented in the region. Both versions create a regional intergovernmental organisation to implement the Treaty. We believe that such an organisation would be beneficial since there is currently no institution for coordination in the Middle East that covers all future parties of the Zone. Formatting differences between both versions include the placing of definitions and scope of the Treaty, which, in Version A, are set as annexes I and II, and, in Version B, as Articles 1 and 2. The main difference between both versions, however, is the kind of monitoring and verification system which would be implemented by that organisation.
Version A proposes establishing a regional layer of verification and a monitoring system that we call ‘the common system for confidence-building and verification of nuclear, chemical and biological materials’, addressed in Annex III of Version A. This is an innovative system grounded on the principle of mutual verification that would reinforce and complement existing international regimes, and foster trust-building between states parties. It also develops a possible regional system for monitoring and verification of biological weapon non-proliferation (Article 8 of Annex III), which would be the first of its kind worldwide.
Version B proposes a second pathway for implementing the Zone that relies primarily on existing international regimes. In that version, the proposed regional organisation assumes a coordination role with the prerogative of calling for ad hoc verification missions implemented by existing organisations including the IAEA and the OPCW. Version B also includes three annexes, each one addressing international obligations to be undertaken by states parties under existing international regimes. Version B is also supplemented by three draft protocols to be signed with relevant countries from outside the region.