By Mohammad Mazhari

Idea of nuclear-weapon-free zones is unlikely: Russian expert

February 22, 2021 - 16:38

THRAN - A Russian expert believes the idea of nuclear-weapon-free zones in West Asia is not practical due to the level of trust between nations and separate political groups.

Iran has repeatedly said that the international community must compel the United States and Israel to fulfill their commitments in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) in West Asia.

However, the main obstacle to the NWFZ is the Israeli arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and its refusal to join the chemical weapons convention (CWC) and the biological weapons convention (BWC). This indicates the failure of the United States in honoring its obligations for nuclear-weapon-free zones. (The last American doctrine "Nuclear Posture Review" allows Washington to use nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear states).

In this regard, Stanislav Mitrakhovich from the National Energy Security Fund and the Financial University tells the Tehran Times that the idea of nuclear-weapon-free zones is not practical, at least in the near future.

“The level of trust between nations and separate political groups in the Middle East (West Asia) is rather low, that makes the idea of nuclear-weapon-free zones unlikely, at least in the nearest future,” according to Mitrakhovich.

Nevertheless, Israel’s nuclear arsenal has always been a source of concern amid the weakening of the non-proliferation regime and the disintegration of the arms control regime.

Meanwhile, the U.S. administration put the maximum pressure on Iran to hinder its peaceful nuclear program.

Trump pursued the policy of crippling sanctions on Iran under the pretext that Iran is seeking to get access to nuclear weapons.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has repeatedly verified the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.

However, the new American administration under Biden's presidency is moving too slowly to rejoin the nuclear pact despite the fact that he had pledged to revive the pact during his election campaigns. 

This policy may have multiple causes and motives. 

“Biden said he won’t lift sanctions soon. But after a while such possibility exists, especially if the new administration tries to make Saudis feel they owe Americans,” the Russian expert argues.

Saudi Arabia has maintained its hostile position regarding Iran. The Saudi Kingdom is notably concerned about the growing influence of Iran in West Asia. The kingdom is also envious of Iran’s technological progress, including in nuclear technology.

Asked about the role of Moscow in the struggle between Iran and the U.S., Mitrakhovich believes that Moscow will definitely try to play the role of a mediator.

“This role will support the Russian anti-sanction narrative. But Moscow will also remember Iran’s position as a competitor in the oil and gas market.”

But the Biden administration may prefer not to focus on Iran and forgive other challenges in Asia. Russia and China are superpowers that are dangerous rivals for American hegemony in terms of military and economic power.

“Biden’s administration will be full of people who are afraid to oppose China as a strategic competitor so they will choose Russia as a demonized adversary — both on the level of real politics and value discourses,” Mitrakhovich emphasizes. “But as for strategic issues like nuclear weapons or space enforced dialogue will continue.”

Overall, Biden's presidency will be a continuation of Obama’s policy both internally (affirmative actions, ‘positive discrimination’, etc.) and externally (‘talk of peace’ with some regional wars like a war on Libya).

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