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

12
Controlling the Arms Trade: Prospects for the Future

STEPHANIE NEUMAN

ARMS-CONTROL fever is in the air. Limiting the transfer of conventional weapons, once thought to be a utopian dream, is now discussed as a viable policy option by policy-makers and the media. The United States and the Soviet Union are reducing the number of strategic and conventional weapons in their arsenals. Two months after the February 1991 Gulf War ceasefire, President Bush announced his Middle Eastern arms-control initiative for restraints on transfers of conventional arms to the region and a freeze on surface-to-surface-missile sales. In October 1991 the big five major exporters--the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Soviet Union, and China1--agreed to exchange information and limit major weapons transfers to the Middle East. The following December, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted 150-0 in favour of an arms-transfer register to collect and publish information on arms transfers in order to achieve transparency, promote restraint in the arms trade, and build confidence among states. President Bush,2 Prime Minister Mulroney, President Mitterrand, and other world leaders have proposed various schemes further to limit international arms sales. And, on the national level, France and Germany have both tightened legislative loopholes regarding the export of weapons of mass destruction.3 Several other states have initiated more restric

____________________
1
The 'big five' account for 85 per cent of the arms deliveries to the Middle East.
2
The Bush Administration has articulated several foreign-policy goals which entail arms-transfer restraint. In addition to limiting the level of armament in the Middle East, they include preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and controls on the transfer of high technology.
3
In 1992, for example, embarrassed by disclosures that German companies had helped Iraq and Libya build chemical plants and had sent equipment to Iraq that could be used to build nuclear weapons, the German Bundestag created a new

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