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Assessing the JCPOA from a Historical Perspective: Moving Beyond the Declaratory Policy of the 2004-2006 Initiative of a Gulf WMD-Free Zone


Christian Koch, Marc Finaud, and Bernd W. Kubbig

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This Policy Forum issue analyses the 2004-2006 initiative to establish a sub-regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Gulf
(GWMDFZ) as a tool to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state. The initiative’s gradual approach which aimed at the ultimate goal of
encompassing the entire Middle East (including Israel) was innovative, and the assertive role of some smaller Gulf states in expressing their security
concerns/interests and verification standards that Tehran would have had to meet was unprecedented. But the entire sub-regional idea remained
confined to the declaratory level. In contrast, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or agreement/accord) – endangered as it currently is –
struck between the E3/EU+3 and Iran exceeds some of the concerns of the earlier initiative, yet misses others. We conclude that new – and ultimately
sustainable – regional forums as communication mechanisms are needed to tackle these issues without touching on the JCPOA. The challenges go
beyond Iran and include the nuclear activities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and even more so of Saudi Arabia. Our Cooperative Idea emphasises
that moving beyond the purely declaratory policy of the GWMDFZ initiative could also help to overcome the current stalemate regarding a zonal
disarmament arrangement for the whole Middle East/Gulf region.