Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Where Realism Fails

| June 24, 2013

Roundtable: Banning WMD from the Middle East


In a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Roundtable on Banning WMD from the Middle East Mansour Salsabili of Iran, Ehud Eiran of Israel, Martin Malin of the United States, and Ayman Khalil of Jordan debate how the process of establishing a WMD-Free Zone can be revived—and what failure to revive it would mean, both for the Middle East and for the nonproliferation regime.

This essay was written in response to "Fundamental Changes to Address Fundamental Problems" by Ehud Eiran

My colleague Ehud Eiran argued in his first essay that "the seeming failure of the WMD-free zone initiative carries negative but not disastrous consequences for the nonproliferation regime." I wrote in my own first essay that cancellation of the 2012 Middle East WMD-Free Zone Conference was not the end of the world—but I do believe that the seeming failure of the overall initiative carries disastrous consequences for the nonproliferation regime. A warning sign came on April 29 when Egypt's delegation walked out of a preparatory committee meeting for the 2015 Review Conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But that is only a small indication of the frustration that parties in the Middle East feel about the cancellation of the 2012 conference. The frustration is likely to become more obvious as nations coordinate their approaches to the 2015 Review Conference. In addition, countries in the Middle East are now increasingly likely to sign nuclear contracts with firms—Russian, French, South Korean, Canadian, or even Chinese—that may be less restrictive than US companies about the transfer of enrichment-related technologies.

Throughout his essay, Eiran explicated a realist point of view that I believe is ill suited to the establishment of lasting security in the Middle East and is too restrictive to address all aspects of a WMD-free zone....

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The entire Roundtable is available here:

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Salsabili, Mansour.“Where Realism Fails.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, June 24, 2013.

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