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Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East and North Africa


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is both the source of concern about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the driving force pushing for multilateral arms control. While most states in the region are parties to – or have signed, but not ratified – the multilateral WMD-related arms control treaties, the few outstanding cases provide a certain embeddedness for the region in the global order. Yet they also reveal the multidimensional asymmetry between regional and extra-territorial actors, the haves and have-nots, in both weapons programmes and civilian capabilities. The case studies of the unacknowledged Israeli nuclear arsenal, the Iranian nuclear programme and the Syrian chemical weapons programme demonstrate the close relationship and interaction between the global and the regional levels. In the absence of a regional security architecture, the Arms Control and Regional Security (ACRS) group has been the only – temporarily – successful exercise, while negotiations on the Middle Eastern WMD-free zone have been postponed indefinitely.

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