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A Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other WMD in the Middle East: Addressing Challenges to Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

GCSP Policy Paper 2013/7

Key Points

  • The establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East remains crucial despite the failure to convene a conference on this initiative as mandated within the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Cycle.
  • This project has taken a new dimension after the Arab Spring because, as a result, civil society and parliaments are likely to play an increasing role in foreign and security policy issues and may press their governments for more progress in this field.
  • The experience of other regions in establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones will be useful to set up a similar zone in the Middle East, including in its technical dimensions and verification mechanisms.
  • In order to make progress towards such a zone in the Middle East, the convenors of the planned conference should engage Israel, Iran and the Arab League in substantive and procedural preparations to launch a negotiating zonal conference cycle.
  • Progress towards this goal would be reported to the NPT Review Cycle conferences, and would require the contribution of international organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) or the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

NB: This paper is solely the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official view of the GCSP.

About the author

Dr Sameh Aboul-Enein, an Egyptian national, is an Adjunct Professor of International Security and Disarmament in the School of Global Affairs at the American University in Cairo. Dr Aboul-Enein has a vast experience in negotiations and research in disarmament and arms control. His recent publications include: “Arab requirements on the Way to a Middle East Free Zone”, American University in Cairo (28 June 2013), and “Cluster I Specific Issue: Nuclear Disarmament and Security Assurance”, American University in Cairo (12 May 2013).