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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 86, Autumn 2007


B
UILDING
B
LOCKS FOR A
WMD

D
ISARMAMENT
R
EGIME IN THE
M
IDDLE
E
AST

Merav Datan

The goal of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction
(WMD) has been
repeatedly affirmed by all states in the region, as well as the international community at the
highest political levels. Yet instead of movement towards this goal, the actual potential trend
continues to be towards proliferation of WMD in th
e Middle East.

Israel's nuclear arsenal, calculated by sources originating outside of Israel to be some 70
-
200
nuclear weapons, is castigated in annual United Nations (UN) General Assembly and
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolutions and provi
des a focus for dissent and
criticism by various states parties to the nuclear Non
-
Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Israel
has never joined. Iran, which has been an NPT party since 1970, is now the focus of
international headlines because of concerns that

its uranium enrichment programme could lay
the foundation for development of nuclear weapons. Recently, several Arab countries have
announced plans to explore and develop nuclear energy programmes for peaceful purposes,
but many analysts outside the regio
n and in Israel suspect that these announcements are linked
to security concerns related to perceptions of nuclear proliferation in the region.

In addition, the Middle East remains the region with the greatest concentration of states that
are not party to
one or more of the international treaties dealing with WMD: the Biological
and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the
NPT, as well as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
[1]

The overwhelming
majority of countries in the region have some form of WMD
-
related research, development or
weaponization programme.
[2]

Moreo
ver and more ominously, WMD, specifically chemical
weapons, have in the past been used in the Middle East.
[3]

Having already crossed the WMD
taboo threshold, and in light of deep
-
root
ed political tensions and a frequent resort to the use
of force, the potential for nuclear conflict in the Middle East is all too real.

Elsewhere in the world, nuclear weapon free zones (NWFZ) have been successfully
negotiated and adopted, and additional s
uch zones are still being pursued. But in the Middle
East the goal of a NWFZ came to be linked with a WMD free zone (WMDFZ) in the NPT
Review Process and relevant Security Council resolutions, for example. This is because of the
de facto

link that states i
n the region have made among WMD,
[4]

notwithstanding the
significant difference in scale of mass destruction between nuclear weapons and biological or
chemical weapons.

Rhetoric vs.
Reality

The goal of a WMD free zone in the Middle East has been affirmed by the Security
Council,
[5]

member states of the NPT,
[6]

and by Israel.
[7]

It has been a topic of discussion at
countless conferences and seminars. But such rhetoric is far from the reality.

While acknowledging that this go
al has been used as a "political football"
[8]

with each side
holding the others responsible for the lack of meaningful progress towards the objective, it
should also be assumed that ea
ch side sees this goal as consistent with its long
-
term security
interests and that if any one of the sides indicates a willingness to relax its current entrenched
position and explore practical steps towards achieving the goal, others will relax their cur
rent
positions as well. If so, then a show of flexibility on the part of one or more sides would
create a real political opening for exploration of steps towards a WMDFZ and would also
serve to increase external political pressure on other sides.

The reali
ty of WMD programmes in the Middle East and the number of states outside of
WMD
-
related treaties pose an enormous challenge. The risks associated with these
programmes are the main reason why the Middle East receives the most international
attention as a r
egion that needs to work towards a WMDFZ.

The current deadlock on progress towards the stated goal of a WMD free zone in the Middle
East and the huge gap between rhetoric and reality reflect how key states in the region have
vastly different, even incompat
ible starting points. These in turn reflect different perceptions
of the tensions, as well as the causes and effects of conflict, in the region.

The Arab states' position is essentially that addressing security concerns in the region requires
dealing with
Israel's nuclear weapons first. This view, that Israel's nuclear capabilities are
destabilizing and must be addressed as a precondition to peace and security in the region, is
reflected in NPT review process documents and the annual General Assembly resolu
tion "The
risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East" (sponsored by a number of Arab States), as
well as annual requests for inclusion of an item on "Israeli Nuclear Capabilities and Threat" in
the IAEA's General Conference agenda.

Israel's position
is that peace and stability must prevail in the region before nuclear issues can
be addressed: "the establishment of peaceful relations, reconciliation, mutual recognition and
good neighbourliness, and complemented by conventional and non
-
conventional arms

control
measures"
[9]

is a precondition for achieving the vision of a WMDFZ or establishing a NWFZ
in the Middle East.

These diametrically opposed starting positions are at the heart o
f the impasse, and were also
the basis of the breakdown within the Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS) working
group that had been established in 1991
-
2 as part of the Middle East peace process. In order to
reverse the current trend towards prolifera
tion and to make concrete progress towards
disarmament, the prevailing concerns of each of the relevant players must be addressed. Once
the parties involved are confident that their security concerns can be addressed through the
political process, negotiat
ions on the concrete building blocks of a WMD disarmament regime
can have some prospect of moving forward constructively.

Conditions for Progress

The only way to address and overcome these contradictory starting positions
-

nuclear
weapons first vs. normal
isation first
-

is to tackle them in parallel. As discussed by Rebecca
Johnson in this issue, building the prerequisites for progress will require the leadership of the
key countries in the region to change their perceptions of what is in their real securi
ty
interests.
[10]

Here, I will focus on some disarmament building blocks that could be negotiated
and agreed as the political changes necessary to break the deadlock are being construc
ted. In
turn, the exploration of such building blocks could feed into the process of establishing the
conditions for progress by illustrating the feasibility and value of a WMD disarmament
regime in the Middle East.

At the same time, it is essential that t
he process of establishing the conditions for a
disarmament regime address "soft security" issues such as development and human rights
throughout the region and within the Israeli
-
Palestinian conflict, as these are a frequent and
recurring source of insecu
rity and conflict. Addressing these issues would entail not only
identifying mechanisms for the promotion of sustainable development and human rights, but
also agreeing on a forum for the airing of past injustices along the lines of
-

but not
necessarily f
ollowing the form of
-

truth and reconciliation commissions.

Such a process will be necessary because of the important role that history and historical
identity play in the current conflict and because of the enormous significance that all Middle
Easterner
s ascribe to their intertwined histories. Recent attempts to address the present and the
future have repeatedly broken down over disagreements regarding the past, including whose
version of history is "right" and who was the cause of whose suffering. Witho
ut a mechanism
for airing grievances about the past, attempts to establish a security dialogue and explore arms
control and disarmament options are destined to fail (and have failed). As with truth and
reconciliation commissions, the process of giving voic
e to past injustices, the opportunity to
be heard, and the requirement that the other side listen are in reality a form of redress, and
often more important than material redress or physical compensation (which might not always
be feasible).

Assuming, ther
efore, that the need for parallel or prior fora for addressing human and
historical as well as security concerns is recognized, and that these have facilitated in
principle agreement to negotiate, the following analysis explores the building blocks of a
WM
D disarmament regime for the Middle East.

Even assuming a breakthrough in the current deadlock and a willingness to explore and
negotiate the elements of a Middle East WMD disarmament regime, the process of political
negotiation and implementation will nee
d to be constantly checked against underlying
security concerns and threat perceptions in order to prevent a breakdown, as has so often
occurred in the past.

The trust required to place the WMD free zone on the agenda in the first place will likely be
frag
ile and can be strengthened or broken depending on whether the developing process is
able to reinforce and build on this trust or not. Therefore, the concrete and quantitatively
measurable elements proposed here for pursuing a WMD disarmament regime must b
e part of
an iterative process, supplemented by an ongoing qualitative assessment of the underlying
security perspectives and concerns that would emerge from a truth and reconciliation type
process. This assessment must constantly take into account each st
ate's threat perceptions and
seek to develop confidence and security building measures tailored to those specific
perceptions.

In addition, energy security for the region is an essential underlying factor with a direct
bearing on the feasibility of
non
-
proliferation and disarmament efforts because of both the
involvement of outside players (and their interest in regional energy sources) and the needs of
the region itself, particularly the proliferation risks associated with any nuclear programme
whet
her designated for peaceful purposes (energy) or not. Thus a WMD disarmament regime
can only succeed if it accommodates energy needs and related security concerns.

Elements of a Middle East WMD Disarmament Regime

The initial elements of a WMD disarmament r
egime for the Middle East need to include the
following:



Ratification of the CTBT by Egypt, Iran and Israel;



Consideration of a Middle East No First Use of WMD agreement as a step towards a
WMD Free Zone;



Freezing and prohibiting "sensitive" nuclear fuel c
ycle activities; and



An informed public debate within each of the states of the region that has or is
considering a nuclear programme, addressing the full range of implications, including
national and regional security, environmental and health impact, and

alternatives,
particularly renewable, sustainable energy.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

The significance of CTBT ratification by all states in the Middle East has been recognized by
international authorities and identified as an interim measure in

pursuit of a zone free of
WMD. Of the 44 states whose signature and ratification are needed for entry into force of the
CTBT, four are in the Middle East: Algeria, Egypt, Iran and Israel. Of these, all have signed
the CTBT but to date only Algeria has rat
ified it. The other three have repeatedly expressed
their support for the CTBT but continue to voice concerns about its value as a real security
and disarmament measure and to link it with the policies and behaviour of other states in the
region. As the Re
port of the International WMD Commission, chaired by Hans Blix, made
clear in 2006, "Egypt, Iran and Israel should join the other states in the Middle East in
ratifying the CTBT."
[11]

What, then are the reasons why these three states continue to hold
out against ratifying the treaty?

In its statements in various international fora, such as the UN General Assembly and meetings
of the NPT and CTBT, Egypt frequently links its ratification
to the nuclear policies of Israel,
making clear that it sees the CTBT in a regional context in which all aspects of non
-
proliferation must be addressed. At the 2005 Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force
of the CTBT, for example, Egypt reaffirmed
this view: "[W]hile Egypt supports the principles
and objectives of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, we cannot regard the treaty as
a secluded legal instrument apart from our common objectives to achieve nuclear
disarmament and the universality o
f non
-
proliferation. Hence Egypt calls for the achievement
of the universality of both the NPT and the CTBT together."
[12]

This position was underlined by Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul
Gheit, who, according to the
Egyptian state news agency MENA, explicitly said "that Egyptian ratification of the treaty
was linked to the extent of developments that may occur in regional and international
circumstances, including the possibility that Isra
el may join the NPT."
[13]

Such concerns are
consistent with Egypt's overall position on nuclear issues in the region and Israeli policy. The
"all or nothing" approach implicit in this
position
-

that Israel must join both the CTBT and
the NPT before Egypt ratifies the CTBT
-

could be relaxed if Egypt is reassured that regional
non
-
proliferation concerns and disarmament objectives are being pursued in a context that
involves Israel and i
s geared towards disarmament. In this context, it is therefore important
for Israel to take the first step of ratifying the CTBT.

Israel participates fully in CTBT activities, particularly in relation to verification of the treaty,
and has constructed two
auxiliary seismic stations as part of the International Monitoring
System of the CTBT. On the matter of ratification, however, Israel continues to express
reservations. As expressed in its statement to the 2007 CTBT Conference, for example,
"Israel's ratif
ication of the CTBT will be influenced by ... the readiness of the verification
regime of the Treaty, especially that of the [on
-
site inspections] and its immunity to abuse;
Israel's sovereign equality status in the Policy Making Organs of the Treaty, incl
uding those
related to the geographical region of the Middle East and South Asia (MESA) and in the
Executive Council of the future CTBTO, and the adherence to and compliance with the ????
by states in the Middle East."
[14]

Israel's position as expressed here is consistent with its general security concerns and reflects
its mistrust of other states. Concerns over the readiness of the verification regime suggest a
belief that a completely

foolproof verification system is a precondition for joining the treaty, a
position that is impossible to satisfy and ignores the reality that even a less
-
than
-
perfect
verification system can be a better guarantor of security than no verification system at

all. The
"sovereign equality" concern reflects Israel's strong interest, apparent in other fora as well, in
being recognized and treated as a legitimate and equal state. In the context of the CTBT, this
has practical implications, particularly for a count
ry that actively contributes to and
participates in the treaty's verification. Questions about compliance with the treaty again
reflect Israel's mistrust of other states, specifically in the regional nuclear context.

Notwithstanding these concerns, the fac
t is that Israel has more to gain and risks little or
nothing by ratifying the CTBT. Ratification could enhance Israel's security situation and
standing as a responsible state worthy of "sovereign equality"; it would put pressure on Egypt
and Iran to ratif
y the treaty, and would reassure its neighbours and the international
community that Israel is willing to engage in multilateral nuclear disarmament.

Moreover, Israel's expressed concerns about the abuse of on
-
site inspection provisions ring
hollow if one
considers the requirements that trigger such inspections. Unless Israel actually
plans to test nuclear weapons, it need not fear challenge inspections, which are a tool designed
to address suspected violations of the treaty.

As the only country in the regi
on and one of the very few in the world not party to the NPT,
Israel is in a unique position with respect to the value of CTBT ratification and the message
such a positive act would send to the region and the world. Given its unique and deliberately
vague
policy of "ambiguity" regarding its nuclear capability, Israel has more to gain than
anyone by ratifying the CTBT. Ratification of the CTBT would signal a legally binding
commitment to the goals of non
-
proliferation and disarmament, as expressed in the pre
amble
of the Treaty. Unlike Israel, most other states have made such a commitment through NPT
membership. Though important, Israel's active participation in the CTBT Organization and its
verification system does not have the same symbolic and political val
ue that CTBT
ratification would have. In addition, ratifying the CTBT would lay to rest the widespread
rumours that Israel has delayed ratifying the treaty because the Bush Administration, with its
own reasons for opposing the CTBT, does not want it to do
so. Sovereign equality, after all,
presupposes sovereign independence.

If Israel were to ratify the CTBT it would become much harder for Egypt to resist ratification,
and if Egypt were to follow suit, the pressure for Iran to ratify would intensify. Like t
he
others, Iran expresses support for the CTBT and also participates in its activities, including
the hosting of five monitoring stations. Iran implicitly justifies its non
-
ratification by pointing
to the policies of the nuclear weapon states (especially t
he United States) and Israel, and
saying that "states cannot decide in isolation".
[15]

Iran has also castigated what it calls the
"selective approach" used in establishing the verifica
tion system.
[16]

Most recently, Iran
listed as one of the negative developments that have jeopardized CTBT entry into force and
elimination of nuclear weapons: "Acknowledgment of the p
ossession of nuclear weapons by
Israeli regime as a clear violation of the spirit and letter of the CTBT, which faced with the
condemnation by a majority of the countries which are Non
-
Aligned Movement [
sic
], and
regretfully, the silence of the western cou
ntries. This is again a clear example of the double
standard policy by the West towards nuclear disarmament and non proliferation regime."
[17]

For Iran, as for Israel, there is much to

gain through the symbolic and political value of
ratification. Iran needs to recognize the value of CTBT ratification as a way of demonstrating
the peaceful intentions of its controversial nuclear programme. In addition, the policies of the
United States
and other nuclear weapon states could be more effectively challenged by non
nuclear weapon states if these demonstrate their own commitment to disarmament measures
such as the CTBT. Ratification of the CTBT sends a signal that the stated position of a
coun
try is reflected in its actual policies and actions. Non
-
ratification undermines the
credibility of a stated policy of support for multilateral treaties and measures. Iran, as the
focus of international suspicion surrounding its nuclear programme, could cl
aim the moral
high ground and counter some of the suspicions by ratifying the CTBT.

Middle East No
-
First
-
Use of WMD Agreement

The policy of "No First Use" (NFU) of nuclear weapons refers to the renunciation of any use
of nuclear weapons by a state possessi
ng such weapons
except in response

to the use of
nuclear weapons by another state. Over the course of recent decades, NFU policies have been
issued by some of the nuclear weapons states (although in some cases these were undermined
by actual security polic
y), while others, including the NATO nuclear states, refused on
grounds that NFU would undermine their postures of deterrence. Meanwhile, non
-
nuclear
weapon states have persisted with their calls for the universal adoption of legally binding
NFU commitment
s. Since in the Middle East, nuclear weapons have been linked
de facto

with
the other two categories of WMD, a no
-
first
-
use of WMD in the Middle East could be a more
feasible confidence and security building measure than the nuclear no first use proposal that
has been a long
-
standing demand made of the other nuclear weapon p
ossessors.
[18]

A no
-
first
-
use of WMD agreement in the Middle East would be an important practical and
substantive step towards WMD disarmament in the region. Given the high level of mi
strust
among regional players and the relative lack of commitment to WMD
-
related treaties,
combined with the existence of WMD
-
related programmes, a formal NFU treaty may be
unrealistic as a first step. Lack of progress towards any kind of multilateral, leg
ally binding
agreement on NFU in the international arena, despite persistent calls from the Movement of
Nonaligned States (NAM) reinforces this conclusion. However, individual but parallel NFU
commitments by states in the region could pave the way for a le
gally binding regional
commitment, avoiding the problems that insisting on a formal agreement at the outset would
undoubtedly provoke. The process of making unilateral but coordinated pledges (and later, if
necessary, negotiating a treaty) would be a usefu
l and important confidence and security
building measure that would help to devalue all WMD in the region.

In order to assess the feasibility of achieving such NFU pledges within the Middle East, it is
necessary to consider the positions of the relevant st
ates. None of the Arab states currently has
a nuclear weapons programme and all are members of the NPT, where their standing is not in
question. For them, a nuclear NFU pledge would be a practical formality, which would be
accomplished through confirmation

of their non
-
nuclear weapon status and their commitment
(as affirmed in the NPT) not to acquire nuclear weapons.

With respect to biological weapons, the BWC prohibits the development, production,
stockpiling, acquisition or retention of these weapons. It
does not explicitly prohibit their use
(and therefore first use) but "there is no doubt among the [states parties] that any use of
biological or toxin weapons in armed conflict or for hostile purposes would be a breach of the
convention".
[19]

The Arab states that are not party to the BWC are Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt
(signed but not ratified), Mauritania, Somalia (signed but not ratified), Syria (signed but not
ratified), and the United
Arab Emirates (signed but not ratified).

According to international law, states that have signed but not yet ratified a treaty are legally
prohibited from taking action that would violate the affirmative provisions of the treaty. Thus
states that have sign
ed but not yet ratified the BWC would be legally prohibited from using
biological weapons according to the prevailing interpretations of both the treaty and of
international law. A no
-
first
-
use pledge would be consistent with their current legal
obligation
s even if they have not ratified the BWC. Those Arab states that have neither signed
nor ratified the BWC do not actually have biological weapons programmes and are not
directly involved in the WMD tensions in the Middle East. They could probably be persua
ded
to join no
-
first
-
use pledges by their fellow Arab League members if the states that play a
leading role with respect to WMD issues decide to do so and emphasize the political and
symbolic importance of these pledges for regional objectives and security
.

The CWC explicitly prohibits any use of chemical weapons. The Arab states not party to this
treaty are Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, and Syria. These states
-

and the Arab League as a
group
-

are on the record as linking refusal to join the CWC with Isr
ael's refusal to join the
NPT.
[20]

Egypt has explicitly stated that it would not sign the CWC "because a country in the
region has a nuclear programme that is not subject to internatio
nal guarantees and this country
rejects the international efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear free region."
[21]

Iran is party to the NPT, the BWC and the CWC and has argued
before the International
Court of Justice that the existing body of international law indicates a prohibition on the use
of nuclear weapons
[22]

and, more generally, that the threat or
use of nuclear weapons is
illegal.
[23]

Its legal commitments are already consistent with a no
-
first
-

use pledge. It appears
therefore that any reservations Iran would have to such regi
onal pledges covering all WMD
would be linked with the CWC reservations of several Arab states and the nuclear policy of
Israel, which are inter
-
related.

Taken at face value, Israel's stated position that it "will not be the first to introduce nuclear
weap
ons into the Middle East" is essentially a no
-
first
-
use policy. Israel is not party to either
the BWC or the CWC, although it has signed the latter. If all states in the region were to make
no first use pledges relating to all WMD in parallel, their argume
nts and counter
-
arguments
regarding one another's WMD capabilities would be cast in a different light.

Even without a strategic and security environment that would allow all the parties to negotiate
and verify a collective agreement, no
-
first
-
use pledges w
ould have political value as
confidence and security building measures. They would raise the threshold of potential WMD
use and provide an important political deterrent against any state using such weapons or
maintaining policies based on potential WMD use
. If the political environment were to
improve in conjunction with such pledges as well as prior or parallel security and
disarmament oriented efforts discussed here and elsewhere, a collective legally binding
commitment could be considered and negotiated.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Activities

The main sources of proliferation concerns in the Middle East are nuclear materials and
technology and the suspicions they generate. Recommendation 12 of the WMD Commission
identified the importance of addressing nuclear fuel

cycle activities in the context of pursuit of
a WMD free zone in the Middle East: "All states should support continued efforts to establish
a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East as a part of the overall peace
process. Steps can be
taken even now. As a confidence
-
building measure, all states in the
region, including Iran and Israel, should for a prolonged period of time commit themselves to
a verified arrangement not to have any enrichment, reprocessing or other sensitive fuel
-
cycle
activities on their territories."
[24]

Such a commitment would need to be coupled with reliable assurances about fuel
-
cycle
services required for peaceful nuclear activities.
[25]

Nuclear technology was originally
developed for weapons purposes, making nuclear programmes
of any sort

inherently capable
of being diverted to weapons purposes and therefore capable of rous
ing proliferation
concerns. The case of Iran illustrates this point, and the reactions to Egypt's announcement in
September 2006 regarding the revival of its nuclear energy further support it.
[26]

Several
Arab countries later announced their intention to pursue nuclear energy, including Algeria,
Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab
Emirates. Some of these states have turned to the IAE
A for assistance in developing their
nuclear energy programmes.

Their stated interest is for peaceful purposes, but observers challenge this claim: "The Middle
Eastern states say they only want atomic power. Some probably do. But US government and
private
analysts say they believe that the rush of activity is also intended to counter the threat
of a nuclear Iran. By nature, the underlying technologies of nuclear power can make
electricity or, with more effort, warheads, as nations have demonstrated over the

decades by
turning ostensibly civilian programmes into sources of bomb fuel. The uneasy neighbours of
Iran, analysts say, may be positioning themselves to do the same."
[27]

Although m
any analysts link the Arab states' recent interest in nuclear programmes more to
Iran's nuclear capability than Israel's, the frequent references to Israel's nuclear policy and
capability in a range of international fora cannot be ignored.

The military pot
ential inherent in all nuclear programmes must be addressed, and the key to
allaying such suspicions lies in addressing the concerns over nuclear materials and
technology. Discussions leading to a Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) are a step in the
ri
ght direction but they do not go far enough because the current proposals would not address
existing stocks or the capability to produce weapons
-
usable material in the future. For this
reason, Greenpeace has recently proposed a model Comprehensive Fissile
Materials Treaty
(CFMT), which it is circulating among members of the Conference on Disarmament in
Geneva.
[28]

The proposed CFMT would prohibit the separation or processing of weapons
-
usable
plutonium as well as the production or processing of highly enriched uranium, and would
therefore go farther towards addressing proliferation concerns than any of the official
proposals currently circulating. Pursuing this more comprehensive approac
h internationally
could cut across the current deadlock on WMDFZ negotiations in the Middle East, since in
principle each state in the region could independently engage with this proposal. This kind of
comprehensive approach to fissile materials recognizes

that achieving a secure, sustainable
zone free of WMD in the Middle East will depend on developing better energy options and
renewable energy sources, thereby contributing to the vision of a Nuclear Free Middle East.

Energy and Security

National security
concerns, including threat perceptions, and domestic energy needs are
important drivers underlying the nuclear and WMD policies of Middle Eastern states. There
needs to be a deeper understanding of how external energy and security interests affect the
Midd
le East and fuel instability and conflict. This will require an informed debate at the
domestic level on how best to address energy needs and options, including renewable energy.
In particular, demonstrating the attractiveness and feasibility of energy alt
ernatives would
relieve some of the pressure on states to pursue nuclear programmes. Exploring such
alternatives may need to be independent of WMDFZ initiatives, but if pursued in parallel it
could help pave the way for progress on negotiations.

Besides th
e specific measures suggested above, it will also be necessary to consider the
seemingly entrenched starting points of each of the representative positions characterized by
the positions of the Arab states, Iran, and Israel. In each case, internal or domes
tic factors are
inseparable from the national security and foreign policy positions that dictate stated positions
in global fora such as the NPT and the IAEA. Threats may or may not originate outside of the
states involved, but the perceptions of regional
threats are a direct contributing factor
-

probably the key factor
-

in each of the representative positions considered here.

How these threat perceptions translate into foreign and security policy is highly subjective and
the factors and processes of poli
cy determination are inevitably internal, with high levels of
secrecy. There is no "one size fits all" solution to national security concerns, particularly not
in the Middle East, which does not offer a level playing field from any political perspective.
T
herefore one of the conditions for a WMDFZ in the Middle East is a domestic shift, at least
within the key states. However it happens (and outsiders might never fully know), some kind
of shift is necessary to foster greater openness and flexibility and inf
luence threat perceptions
at both the public and decision
-
making levels. The actual process for bringing about the
policy (and perceptual) shifts will of course depend also on political culture and how
democratic national security decision
-
making processes

are.

What this means for international and regional efforts to promote a WMDFZ is that the most
persuasive arguments and relevant information might differ in the case of each representative
position. Within Israel, for example, there is a great deal of at
tention given to regional nuclear
issues but little or no attention to disarmament as a solution or even as a conceptual approach
that could reduce regional tensions. In fact there is no word in Hebrew for "disarmament" as
such. Rather the term used is clo
ser to "dismantlement", indicating a focus on the physical
aspects of the weapons rather than a shift in policy relating to their value or use. The
argument that disarmament is a relevant and practical approach to regional security has yet to
be seriously
entertained in Israel. Domestically, Israel appears almost immune to the
enormous amount of international attention given to the issue of a WMD free zone in the
Middle East, and many citizens would probably be surprised to learn that this goal is
consisten
t with Israel's official position.

A shift in domestic dialogues surrounding energy needs and options is also essential. The
belief of many states in the region that nuclear energy is a sustainable and viable way to meet
domestic energy needs is only possi
ble because of ignorance surrounding the realities of
nuclear power generation. These include environmental and health
[29]

as well as economic
factors. The true costs of nuclear power
are often masked by subsidies and hidden
expenses.
[30]

Renewable energy alternatives such as solar or wind have not been given anywhere near the
attention that nuclear and fossil fuel
energy sources have received, globally or in the Middle
East. Nor have they received anything like the level of subsidies or investment in research and
development routinely pumped into nuclear energy. This is unfortunate given the strong
potential for ren
ewable energy
-

particularly solar and wind technologies
-

to meet energy
needs in the Middle East. From an environmental and economic point of view, renewable
energy sources are an option well worth exploring, and from a non
-
proliferation point of view
th
ey would make a decidedly positive contribution to security in the region. Greenpeace and
others have already provided research into a renewable energy scenario for the Middle East
that could serve to inform domestic dialogues.
[31]

Conclusions

The current deadlock over a zone free of WMD in the Middle East is the result of a 'chicken
and egg' circularity of logic, in which each side considers action by other(s) as a necessary
preconditi
on for making concessions itself. It can be overcome by addressing the core issues
in parallel and ensuring that underlying security concerns and threat perceptions are
continuously assessed and addressed.

Before the practical building blocks for a disarma
ment regime can be negotiated, it will be
necessary for the states in the region to make far greater progress towards addressing the past,
present and future concerns that create and fuel the tensions that lead to the use of armed force
and the pursuit of
security policies based on possession of weapons of mass destruction (or
the potential to develop and use them). Because the mistrust that fuels tension and often
sparks conflict in the Middle East is rooted in the past, any attempt to promote security, ar
ms
control and disarmament initiatives will only succeed if there is a prior or parallel process for
addressing matters of human rights, justice, and history.

A "soft security" process that addresses past grievances is not only an essential pressure valve
for the expression of human concerns that would otherwise interfere with diplomatic security
negotiations. It can also feed directly into the confidence
-
building process that is essential for
meaningful disarmament. Once such a process has been developed a
nd implemented, the
elements of a WMD disarmament regime, including but not limited to those explored above,
will be seen as more realistic and feasible.

Notes

[1]

Building a Weapons of
Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East: Global Non
-
Proliferation Regimes and Regional Experiences
, UNIDIR/2004/24, pp. 25, 29. See also
Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East
(updated September 29, 2006)
http://cns.miis.edu/research/wmdme/index.htm

[2]

Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute, Weapons of Mass Des
truction
Capabilities in the Middle East,
http://cns.miis.edu/research/wmdme/capable.htm

[3]

Center for Nonproliferation St
udies, Reported Use of Chemical Weapons, Ballistic
Missiles, and Cruise Missiles in the Middle East,
http://cns.miis.edu/research/wmdme/timeline.htm

[4]

Alan Dowty, "Making 'No First Use' Work: Bring All WMD Inside the Tent," The Non
-
proliferation Review 8 (Spring 2001): 79
-
85.

[5]

Security Council Resolution 687 (April 3,1991).

[6]

NPT 1995 Resolution on the Middle East.

[7]

State of Israel, Ex
planation of Vote on the Establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East,
UN General Assembly First Committee, October 9, 2007. This is the most recent statement of
Israel's position: "Israel remains committed to a vision of the Middle East developing into a
zo
ne free of Chemical, Biological and Nuclear weapons as well as ballistic missiles. Yet we
are also realistic enough to know that in the current realities of the Middle East, this noble
vision is not going to materialize any time soon.." Available at:
http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1com/1com07/EOV/L1israel.pdf

[8]

Rebecca Johnson, "Ret
hinking Security Interests for a Nuclear
-
Weapon
-
Free Zone in the
Middle East",
Disarmament Diplomacy 86 (this issue), Autumn 2007
.

[9]

Israel, Explanation of Vote on the Establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East, UN
General Assembly First Committee, October 9 2007, above.

[10]

Rebecca Johnson, "Rethinking Secu
rity Interests for a Nuclear
-
Weapon
-
Free Zone in the
Middle East", op. cit.

[11]

Recommendation 12,
Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and
Chemical Arms
, Report of the WMD Commission, 2006, p 81.
www.wmdcommission.org

[12]

Statement by Egypt at the Fourth Conference on Facilitating the Entry
into Force of the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, New York, September 23, 2005

[13]

"Egypt links ratifying CTBT to Israel's nuclear stance", Pakistan Daily Times Sunday, 28
August

2005,
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_28
-
8
-
2005_pg4_7

[14]

Statement by Israel at

the Fifth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Vienna, September 18, 2007

[15]

Statement by Iran at the Second Conference on Fac
ilitating the Entry into Force of the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, New York, 11 November 2001.

[16]

Statement by Iran at the Third Conference on Facilitating the Entry into For
ce of the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Vienna, 3 September 2003.

[17]

Statement by Iran at the Fifth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the
comprehensive Nuclea
r Test Ban Treaty, Vienna, September 18, 2007.

[18]

This proposal and the analysis that follow build on the presentation of Eitan Barak,
"Regional No First Use Treaty: First Step in the
Right Direction?" at the seminar "Nuclear
Future in the Middle East? Options for De
-
escalation" hosted by Greenpeace, Tel Aviv, Israel,
15 February 2007, and on a forthcoming paper by Eitan Barak and Merav Datan on this topic.

[19]

Jez Littlewood, "Strengthening the Role of the BTWC and CWC" in
Building a Weapons
of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East: Global Non
-
Proliferation Regimes and
Regional Experiences

(United Nations Ins
titute for Disarmament Research and League of
Arab States, Geneva 2004) p. 26.

[20]

"Arab League Reiterates Rejection of Chemical Arms Ban Treaty,"
The Xinhua General
Overseas News Servi
ce
, March 8, 1993, cited in Nuclear Threat Initiative,
http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles/Israel/Chemical/3664.html

[21]

"Egypt: Diplomatic Source Says Egypt Not to Sign Chemical Weapons Treaty" Middle
East News Agency, 15 August 1996, cited in Alan Dowty, "Making 'No First Use' Work:
Bring All WMD Inside the Tent"
The Nonproliferation Review
, Spring 2001

[22]

Written Statement of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the International
Court of Justice,
Advisory Opinion on the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons
, 19 June 1995,
http://www.icj
-
cij.org/docket/files/95/8678.pdf

[23]

Oral Statement of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to th
e International
Court of Justice, Verbatim Record in the case
Legality of the Use by a State of Nuclear
Weapons in Armed Conflict and Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons
, 6
November 1995,
http://www.icj
-
cij.org/docket/files/95/5933.pdf

[24]

Recommendation 12,
Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and
Chemical Arms
, Report of the WMD Commissi
on, 2006,
www.wmdcommission.org

[25]

Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms
, op.
cit.

[26]

See "Egypt goes nuclear amid regional tensions" International Relations and Security
Network
http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/detai
ls.cfm?id=16724

[27]

William J. Broad and David E. Sanger, "Fearing Iran, Arab states seek nuclear power"
International Herald Tribune
, April 15, 2007,
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/15/news/nuke.php

[28]

Comprehensive Fissile Materials Treaty, 21 February 2006
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/

comprehensive
-
fissile
-
material

[29]

An Overview of Nuclear Facilit
ies in Iran, Israel and Turkey
, Greenpeace, 2007,
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/

nuclear
-
facilities
-
iran
-
israel
-
turkey

[30]

The Economics of Nuclear Power
, Greenpeace, 2007,
http://www.greenpeace.org/intern
ational/press/reports/

the
-
economics
-
of
-
nuclear
-
power

[31]

Energy [R]evolution
-

A pathway to a sustainable clean energy future for the Middle
East
, Greenpeace 2007,
http://www.greenpeace.org/mediterranean/reports/energy
-
r
-
evolution
-
a
-
pathwa
. See also
Egypt and the Great Energy Debate
, Greenpeace, 2007,
http://www.greenpeace.org/mediterranean/reports/egypt
-
and
-
the
-
great
-
energy
-
deb

Merav Datan is the Middle East Political Advisor for Greenpeace International and is
currently based in Tel Aviv. She is an
international lawyer and a former adjunct professor at
Rutgers Law School. She has previously worked for the Women's International League for
Peace and Freedom, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the
Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear P
olicy, and as a consultant to the United Nations
Department for Disarmament Affairs. Portions of this paper appeared in the Greenpeace
Briefing "Conditions for a Nuclear Free Middle East" distributed at the International
Seminar on "Steps towards a Middle
East Nuclear Free Zone", co
-
hosted by the Institute for
Peace Studies and Greenpeace International, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, March 21, 2007.