International Statement for a Middle East free of all Weapons of Mass Destruction

Despite the unfolding tragedy in Iraq and the dangerously spiraling crises in the Middle East, another war of an unprecedented scale, this time against Iran, is looming. The environmental and human cost of this war would, by comparison, dwarf the suffering in Iraq; it would engulf the region and have serious and unforeseen global consequences.

Terrifyingly, even "pre-emptive" nuclear strikes on Iran have not been ruled out. The introduction of the notion of limited "surgical strikes" involving tactical nuclear bunker busters, has not only increased such possibility, it has brought the morally unthinkable into the realm of debatable. By the introduction of the idea itself, it has begun the process of desensitising the public to such a horror. The logical outcome of the nuclear threat is undoubtedly a drive to nuclear proliferation in the region, which would then increase the likelihood of its eventual use. In this eventuality, there will be no winners.

At this perilous time, let us be reminded of the joint Manifesto by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein of July 1955, at the height of the Cold War: "We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings, members of the species, Man, whose continued existence is in doubt ... We shall try to say no single word which should appeal to one group rather than to another. All, equally, are in peril, and, if the peril is understood, there is hope that they may collectively avert it. ... The question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military conflict of which the issue must be disastrous to all species?"

The stakes now are at least equally high. It is with this same spirit of shared humanity that we reach out to all peace loving people in the world to subscribe to the following steps to reduce the risk of a nuclear confrontation.

With this aim in mind, we, the undersigned:

1. Call for the Middle East to be a zone free from nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

2. Call upon Israel, as the only Middle Eastern state suspected of possession of nuclear weapons, to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and become fully transparent by opening its clandestine nuclear facilities to international inspections and supervision by International Atomic Energy Agency. Any nuclear weapons or programme and facility in abrogation of the guidelines of the NPT to be dismantled and removed.

3. Call for the dispute about Iran’s nuclear programme, to be resolved through peaceful means, through negotiations and dialogue with the representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and through such measures deemed necessary by the IAEA, in accordance with the guidelines of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a current signatory.

4. Welcome Iran’s declaration of the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, but urge Iran’s full co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid suspicion and misunderstanding.

5. Strongly condemn the Israeli government for its continued harassment, conviction and now prison sentence imposed on Mordechai Vanunu, for simply talking to foreign journalists. We call upon the Israeli authorities to lift all restrictions on Vanunu and allow him to go free.

Signed:

Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (UK and USA)
Campaign for a Nuclear Free Middle East (UK)
The Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological and Chemical Weapons
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)
Code Pink (USA)
Fellowship of Reconciliation (USA)
Global Exchange (USA)
Islamic Human Rights Commission (UK)
Just Foreign Policy (USA)
Massachusetts Peace Action (USA)
Middle East Citizens Assembly
Middle East Crisis Coalition (USA)
Muslim Association of Britain (UK)
Muslim Council of Britain (UK)
No Nuclear Weapons (Norway)
Palestinian Return Centre (UK)
Pax Christi (USA)
Peace Action (USA)
Stop the War Coalition (UK)
The 1990 Trust (UK)
United for Justice with Peace (USA)

Shirin Ebadi - Nobel Peace Prize 2003
Mairead Maguire and Betty Williams - joint Nobel Peace Prize 1976
Harold Pinter - Nobel Prize for Literature 2005
Jody Williams - Nobel Prize 1997 (Landmines Campaign)