World

Do states still care about nuclear disarmament in the Middle East?

After 20 years, the 1995 Middle East resolution designed to establish a wmd-free zone remains unimplemented. Based on a report by non-proliferation expert Dr Tytti Erästö for the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute, which addresses the prospects for a WMD-free zone at the NPT Review Conference 2020, we take a look at countries’ current positions on a WMD-free Middle East.

The Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) has remained largely unimplemented since its formulation in 1968. Despite successive NPT Review Conferences (RevCon) every five years since 1975 and intermediary Preparatory Committees (PrepCom), many of the major issues, such as non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament in the Middle East, have failed on the basis of political deadlock between regional actors, as well as depository states – namely the UK, the US and Russia.

According to non-proliferation expert Dr Tytti Erästö, writing in a report commissioned by the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute (SIPRI) the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) could have effectively been a blueprint for all states in the Middle East to follow in terms of nuclear disarmament, evidenced by Iran’s adherence to its guidelines.

However, the US’s recent withdrawal from the JCPOA has compounded issues for the WMD-free zone, and now states are to return to the drawing board to see if some of the political deadlock can be broken. The erosion of the JCPOA, nuclear disarmament, and regional security will no doubt be back on the agenda at RevCon 2020.

The United States

The US shares the perspective that Iran’s nuclear programme is more of a threat to stability in the Middle East than Israel’s nuclear disarmament.

The US cancelled the 2012 Helsinki conference, citing regional disagreements between Israel and Egypt over a broader regional security dialogue. It stated that a WMD-free zone could only be established once “durable peace and full compliance by all countries in the region with their non-proliferation obligations” was achieved.

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