Olli Heinonen on verification of a Middle East WMD-free zone

The Middle Eastern Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (WMDFZ) – Nuclear Verification
Wilton Park Conference “Verification in the 21st Century”
June 2012
Conference paper by: Olli Heinonen, Belfer Center senior fellow
Topic: Verification of a Middle East WMD-free zone 

“Establishing a WMDFZ in the Middle East has been as elusive over the years as it has been emphasized. A WMDFZ would also be the first of its kind to be created. Coupled with the complexities of the Middle East region, it necessitates a comprehensive WMD approach. Even for Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NWFZ), there is no one single model. Each existing treaty had introduced elements, including creative legal arrangements, and unique features depending on the specificities of each zone. The case for the Middle East will be more complex, since it covers all weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles. Elements of the verifications process can be sketched out. For instance, with regard to the biological weapons and delivery vehicles, experiences can be drawn from the implementation of the UNSC resolutions on Iraq. Questions concerning verifying delivery vehicles can also be gleaned from arms control agreements between Russia and the US. At the same time, there are also challenges. The verification cultures and approaches of the OPCW and the IAEA differ from each other. The implementation of the Treaty will require costly, time consuming and verification intensive dismantlement of current WMD capabilities. Support of the nuclear weapon states and their commitment to backing features of the zone will also need to be addressed.”

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