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A Middle East Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction

A New Approach to Nonproliferation

By Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Emad Kiyaei
Cover: Mousavian

A nuclear-free Middle East?

For decades, there has been talk about creating a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, more recently expanded to a weapons of mass destruction-free zone (encompassing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons). But so far, it’s only been talk.

In this book two experts from the region, with long experience in the issue, explore why the talk has not been translated into action. More important, they outline a comprehensive yet achievable roadmap for that action.

The authors acknowledge that the Middle East is characterized by perpetual instability and deep-rooted mistrust, a region whose leaders seem unlikely to forsake any kind of weapons systems. They argue, however, that inaction is not an option, given the almost inevitable proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their possible use by terrorist groups. The use of chemical weapons in Syria, Israel’s opaque nuclear weapons program, and the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program are the most obvious but far from the only issues that must be dealt with if the region is to avoid mass destruction.

The authors describe, in detail, a roadmap based on a phased approach, including guidelines and parameters for a weapons of mass destruction-free zone. Confidence-building and verification measures gradually would create trust among the region’s stakeholders, enabling them to move along a step-by-step path that might otherwise seem unrealistic. Establishing a weapons of mass destruction-free zone also could be a gateway to addressing other security-related problems in the region, possibly even paving the way for a broad range of socioeconomic and political benefits.

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