The 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan endorsed the convening in 2012 of a “zone free of nuclear and other WMD” conference to be attended by all states in the Middle East. The conference was postponed due to turmoil in the region and Israeli resistance. Could the verifiable elimination of all WMD capabilities from the Middle East be feasible in the absence of stable and transparent governments in all the region’s states? In the midst of civil war in Syria, uncertainty in Lebanon and Jordan, political instability in Egypt, Iranian noncompliance with IAEA and UN Security Council requirements for transparency and confidence building, and paralysis in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, what is the value of focusing on a WMD-free zone? If key governments and political movements do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, what interest would Israel have in putting all of its nuclear materials and activities under international safeguards, thereby eliminating its nuclear deterrent? How do Islamist parties in the region understand these issues?

David Ignatius, Shahram Chubin, Dore Gold, and Mahmoud Karem look at how countries in the Middle East view these issues. Share your comments and questions below.