One of the most contentious outcomes of last year’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was the decision to make the “utmost efforts” to establish the Middle East as a nuclear-weapons free zone. The Review Conference’s unanimous Final Declaration both called for an international conference to discuss a possible WMD-free zone in the Middle East and urged Israel to join the NPT. Although the U.S. delegation supported the Final Declaration, the United States made clear it would use its role as one of the designated organizers to ensure that the conference would only occur if all the parties felt comfortable attending.
Governments are beginning to consider how that conference might proceed. David Albright and Daryl Kimball discussed whether the conference is the best way forward, how it might proceed, and what other regional nonproliferation activities might prove more beneficial or establish a more favorable environment for progress. Exploring these challenges, Dr. Shmuel Bar also assessed the relevance of potential paradigms of nuclear command and control in Middle Eastern countries in light of Iran’s nuclear program and the possible transfer of nuclear material and knowledge from Pakistan and North Korea to the region, among other issues.