Editor's NOTE

By Pomper, Miles A. | Arms Control Today, November 2004 | Go to article overview
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Editor's NOTE


Pomper, Miles A., Arms Control Today


Iran's failure to fulfill its obligations as a nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) state-party, Syria's alleged pursuit of chemical weapons, and Israel's failure to sign the NPT and its continued possession of nuclear weapons illustrate the fundamental challenge of controlling arms competition in the Middle Rast.

Not surprisingly, many policymakers have favored managing crises, rather than addressing their root cause: the widespread sense of insecurity felt by states in the region. Yet, as Oalia Dassa Kaye points out in this month's cover story, regional arms control could play a valuable role in dealing with some of these proliferation concerns and could also contribute to the goal of a comprehensive Middle Rast peace.

One arms control tool-on-site inspection-is particularly important. Citing the recent Iraq experience, former Department of State official Edward Ifft points out that, although inspections are only one tool in the arms control toolbox and have some limitations, they provide essential information to policymakers, who can either correct or corroborate information provided by national intelligence services and prevent worst- case scenarios from driving the policy process.

For the United States, much of that intelligence information is supplied by satellites. Michael Krepon notes, however, that the Pentagon is inching toward weaponizing space, a move that could jeopardize the flow of intelligence-information needed both by policymakers and commanders managing their troops in battle.

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