A Chemical Weapons–Free Middle East
May 21, 2013
Three weeks ago Egypt walked out of a preparatory committee meeting for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in protest at the lack of progress toward holding a conference on a weapons of mass destruction (WMD)–free zone in the Middle East. The deadline had been arbitrarily set in 2010 for 2012. Given destabilizing state systems, shifting regional alignments, and overall ongoing conflict in the Middle East, it is no surprise that convening a conference last year proved impossible. Even in times of relative peace, the issues surrounding arms control and disarmament in the Middle East are complex. The linkage of all WMD (nuclear, biological, chemical weapons and missiles) in particular has hardened the decades-long stalemate. But it is precisely the reality of events unfolding in the Middle East that requires all sides to come to the negotiating table, especially on chemical weapons (CW) if not on all WMD. Claims of CW use in Syria, regardless of origin, should motivate regional and global leaders to take steps to eliminate this cruel weapon.