External Actors in Nuclear Weapon Free Zones: Lessons for the Middle East

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UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
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UNU-CRIS Working Papers
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This paper aims to examine the role of external powers towards nuclear weapons free zones (NWFZs) and to find lessons learned that can be useful in light of the proposal to establish a similar arrangement in the Middle East. The nuclear weapons states (NWS) are called to play a role in the process, being in a positionto provide negative security assurances to the prospective zone. Nonetheless, their resistance to do so in the past can be a problem for the Middle East. A comparative analysis of the previous NWFZs showed that some obstacles encountered in the past are posed to be problematic for regional denuclearization: freedom of the seas, transit rights, military bases and existing security arrangements. While on the one hand Middle Eastern states should recognize the need for flexibility in negotiating the treaty, on the other, the NWS would be well advised to provide their support to the effort. A thorough reexamination of the NWS approach to negative security assurances is needed, both globally and regionally, where they can be a basis to reach an agreement.