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Formidable challenges stand in the way of controlling and eventually eliminating nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the Middle East. A new discussion paper issued by the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs outlines both the challenges and a set of near-term measures designed to fast forward the development of political solutions to the weapons dilemma.
"A WMD Free Zone in the Middle East: Creating the Conditions for Sustained Progress" is co-authored by Martin Malin and Paolo Foradori.
"The political, security, and economic benefits of establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East are potentially great and would be broadly shared. Many of the region’s most vexing problems—from the Iranian nuclear standoff, to threat of Syrian chemical weapons, to the proliferation of ballistic missiles, to the sense of fear and injustice surrounding Israel’s nuclear program, to concern over the spread of nuclear energy—would be eased or erased with the entry into force of a region-wide treaty banning all weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles," the authors write. Yet they admit that, "the obstacles to establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East are numerous and long-standing. They will not soon be overcome."
Malin and Foradori examine the germane historical lessons and theoretical underpinnings necessary to achieve weapons security in the region.
"We propose broadly-focused confidence-building measures, including unilateral and subregional steps as well as agreement on general principles to guide negotiations," they write. "We suggest that the process of addressing WMD and other Middle East regional security issues will require a regional foundation. To address the absence of suitable institutional machinery in the Middle East, we recommend the establishment of a regional security forum as an institutional home for the ongoing discussion of WMD issues and other matters of mutual concern."
Malin serves as Executive Director of the Project on Managing the Atom, and Foradori is a senior lecturer at the School of International Studies at the University of Trento (Italy) and an associate of the Project.