Lots of people are apparently holding their breath, waiting to see what happens in the United States on November 6, 2012. Annecdotal evidence suggests that American enterprise is entering into contracts for new projects, but not giving the go-ahead for work to commence, until after the election is done. And, we've been hearing for over a year about bankers not being able to make loans and release funds into the economy because of "uncertainty." As if the future were ever certain. Are they going to be more certain after November 6th, when Barack Obama gets elected to a second term, despite the fact that they've all done their best to keep people unemployed and desperate? Probably not, but at some point they're going to have to realize that the money they are sitting on is worthless and the Federal Reserve is not going to bail them out by raising the base interest rates.
However, Wall Street seems to be in good company. The nations of the Middle East are also sitting on their hands watching and waiting to see what transpires in the U. S. this November. So, the Finland conference on MENWFZ is on hold until December. What's MENWFZ, you ask?
It's been a while since I posted about the Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, as a follow on to the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, because, although President Barack Obama made the elimination of nuclear weapons one of his goals, there's not been much movement to add on to the original 9. But, the just past President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, also had the issue as a priority, so in 2011 a meeting of the affected parties was planned for 2012.
Who are the affected parties? The former Australian Foreign Minister, Gareth Evans sounds discouraged, but he is addressing the issue as a follow up to the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament meeting, fully aware that some of the principals are perhaps not keen. Though the announcement of the invitation to Teheran being announced in the paper suggests that it was well received. Iran is certainly central and, according to Counter Punch, continues committed to non-proliferation, despite the Isreali Prime Minister's bomblet presentation last week at the United Nations.
Let's let them provide a bit of context:
What was Netanyahu’s case against Iran? That Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb. This is an old saw from Bibi. In 1992, as a Member of the Knesset, Netanyahu predicted that Iran was “three to five years” from a nuclear weapon. He was wrong in 1992, and he is wrong now. Take the case of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) recent reports on Iran. The Director General of the IAEA provided a report to the IAEA’s Board of Governors on August 30, 2012. If you are able to get through the bureaucratic and legalistic verbiage, you’ll get to the two important sentences: (1) that the IAEA is confident about “the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”; and (2) that the IAEA can “conclude that all nuclear materials in Iran is in peaceful activities.” By the IAEA’s standards, Iran has not diverted its materials to nuclear weapons use. In other words, Iran remains on track with a program that President Eisenhower’s administration championed, Atoms for Peace (at his 1953 speech to the UN General Assembly).Meanwhile, the representative of the United Arab Emirates, Hamad Al Kaabi called for the establishment of the MENWFZ, even as he announced to the United Nations that
the UAE started the construction of unit one of Barakah nuclear power plant earlier this summer, making it the first country among nuclear newcomers to start the construction of a nuclear power plant in 27 years,The argument that the Middle Eastern nations are sitting on oil fields and thus have no reason to develop nuclear energy ignores that prudent people diversify and don't put all their eggs in one basket.
Egypt is still on board, if the report in Counter Punch is to be believed:
If Israel was serious about the principle of a nuclear-free Middle East, it would immediately sign onto the most important proposal made in this UN General Assembly session thus far: when Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi called for the creation of a Nuclear Weapons Free zone in the region by the end of 2012. The problem is that Morsi’s proposal will be blocked by two powers: the US and Israel. A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone would mean that the US would not be able to bring its nuclear weapons to its bases in the Middle East and nor can it use depleted uranium in the weapons that its ships carry into the Gulf.Well, that's a variant of the same silly reason the United States advanced against the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone until it was finally adopted. So, perhaps the assessment that it merely needs to be a regional initiative is honest and the meeting now scheduled for December in Finland will be fruitful.
If Evans' assessment is correct, then the nations in the region are probably holding their breath.
But it is hard to ignore the huge constraint that an intensely partisan and negative political environment in the US has imposed. Republican intransigence has precluded US ratification of the CTBT, which would be a big international circuit-breaker; almost killed the New START treaty at birth; and has caused the bar for further negotiations with Russia and China to be set almost impossibly high.Perhaps Bibi's bomblet was a "Hail Mary" and he's not looking forward to having the man who doesn't "bluff" re-elected. Certainly, Israel is a stumbling block to Barack Obama's ambitions.
Nor is there any sign that any of these positions would be modified should Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, become president. International concerns have been compounded – certainly for the APLN leaders – by the shrillness of Romney’s statements on China and Taiwan, as well as his extraordinary identification of Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”