A Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) is seen as a useful instrument to implement multilateral agreements prohibiting acquisition, stocking, and testing of nuclear weapons. NWFZs also include legal provisions and specific safeguards against the use of such weapons.
The purpose of a NWFZ is twofold: it is an initiative aimed at the elimination of nuclear weapons in a specific region and, at the same time, a security-building measure.
Around the world, five Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (or Areas) have been established so far. However, the very different circumstances of the Middle East mean it is difficult to draw on lessons learnt.
As for the Middle East, talks have been in the air for decades, however with no concrete results. Hostility between Israelis and Palestinians, frozen diplomatic relations, Israeli and Iranian nuclear ambitions and the unstable political situation in the region are some of the reasons why talks have not yet materialised.
Hopes were dampened when the Helsinki conference, scheduled for late 2012, was postponed. But recently there have been signals that the process could be revived.