A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East - A Pipe Dream?

By Bahgat, Gawdat | The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East - A Pipe Dream?


Bahgat, Gawdat, The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies


The Middle East is one of the most unstable regions in the world. Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear weapons, and its neighbors (Iran and Arab countries) have never accepted this strategic imbalance. Since the mid-1970s they have called for making the entire Middle East a nuclear weapons free zone. The participants at the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference agreed to hold a conference on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons free zone in 2012, but as of the present time few preparations have been made. This study examines the experience of nuclear weapons free zones in the rest of the world, and highlights the huge gap between the Israeli, Arab and Iranian perspectives. The changing security landscape in the Middle East due to the unrest in several Arab countries has added more urgency toward pursuing this objective.

The founding of Israel in 1948 drastically altered the Middle East landscape, particularly the security dynamics. Initially, Arab countries rejected the existence of a Jewish state at the heart of the Middle East. The 1948, '56, '67, and '73 wars, as well as several other skirmishes, can be seen as clear signs and demonstrations of this deeply rooted hostility between the two sides. The Arab-Israeli conflict took a turning-point with the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979. More than ten years later, Jordan signed a similar treaty and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Agreement. Meanwhile, other Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf, engaged in commercial relations with Israel without explicitly awarding diplomatic recognition. These developments have reflected a growing realization by both Arab governments and the "Arab Street" that Israel is there to stay and has become an undisputed part of the region's landscape. In short, it can be argued, in recent decades the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict is less about the mere existence and legitimacy of Israel and more about recovering territories occupied in the 1967 war, the return of Palestinian refugees, and the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

This mutual-acceptance, however, has been challenged by the lack of consensus on how to address the nuclear weapons issue. Since the late 1960s/early 1970s Israel has been widely believed to possess nuclear weapons. As the only nuclear power in the Middle East, Israeli governments have strictly adhered to a policy, known as the Begin Doctrine, under which Jerusalem has vowed not to allow its neighbors to develop nuclear weapons. Guided by this policy, the Israeli air force carried out two successful strikes against the Iraqi nuclear reactors (1981) and Syrian nuclear plant (2007). In addition, Israel is closely watching the development of Iran's nuclear program and has repeatedly threatened to take military action to destroy Tehran's nuclear capabilities.

On the other side, Israel's nuclear monopoly has left the Arabs and Iranians with a sense of vulnerability and inferiority. It is little wonder that some of Israel's neighbors have sought to acquire nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. The goal is to reach a state of balance of power between the two sides. Arab and Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear capabilities have not succeeded and Israel remains the only nuclear power in the Middle East. Another approach to counter Israel's nuclear arsenal is to pressure Jerusalem to give up its nuclear weapons and establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East (NWFZME). Under such a scheme all regional powers would not have access to nuclear weapons and the nuclear military balance between Israel and its neighbors would be restored.

This study seeks to examine the prospects of establishing a NWFZME. The next section provides a definition of the concept "nuclear weapons free zone" and the roots of this concept and how it is related to the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East - A Pipe Dream?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.