Non-Conventional-Weapons Proliferation in the Middle East: Tackling the Spread of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Capabilities

By Efraim Karsh; Martin S. Navias et al. | Go to book overview

the small Nahel Soreq research reactor, which has never been linked to Israel's nuclear-weapons programme. Algeria's intended use of the Ain Oussera reactor is more problematic, however. If the IAEA establishes the precedent of vigorous implementation of its special inspection rights in NPT states and strengthens its ties to the Security Council to enforce these rights, these steps will undoubtedly enhance the value of its safeguards as a deterrent against cheating at inspected installations--such as the Ain Oussera facility--in non-NPT countries. Thus, except in the notable case of Israel, the impending improvement of IAEA monitoring could have an important impact throughout the region.

To be effective, special inspections ultimately depend on accurate intelligence concerning undeclared nuclear activities. In Iraq, such intelligence was lacking, and, even if the IAEA had been prepared to demand a special inspection, it would not have known where to look, in many cases. The failure of US intelligence to detect the construction of the Ain Oussera reactor for a number of years is also cause for concern. With the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the United States has greatly increased its commitment of intelligence resources to the issue of proliferation, which may go far towards addressing this problem.

The particulars of the special-inspection regime also deserve close scrutiny. If the threshold of proof for initiating a special inspection is too high, the technique may prove unusable as a practical matter. It is also important that the time between the demand for a special inspection and the arrival of inspectors at the target site be sufficiently short to prevent practices of the type Iraq repeatedly employed to deceive the UN-IAEA inspection teams operating under Resolution 687.

In sum, IAEA safeguards are being significantly improved and could have an important restraining impact on a number of Middle Eastern nuclear programmes of proliferation concern.


CONCLUSION

Although it is highly probable that Israel will retain its nuclear monopoly for much, if not all, of the 1990s, the nuclear map of the Middle East is changing dramatically. Developments in Iran, Syria, and Algeria leave no doubt that the nuclear aspirations of other regional states are intensifying, and concerns remain about a

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