Published in The Encyclopedia of Arms Control and Disarmament, Prof. Richard Dean Burns, Editor in Chief, Charles Scribner's Sons, Publisher, 1992.
The problems of arms control in the Middle East are more complex than in any other region in the world. This area is characterized by a number of bitter conflicts, periodic warfare, constantly escalating arms races, shifting alliances, and general instability. The multitude of independent actors and factors has made any form of conflict amelioration, including arms control, extremely difficult to implement.
In a political sense, the definition of the Middle East is fluid and changes depending on the time and issue. The core region consists of Egypt, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Politically and militarily, it is also necessary to include Iran, Turkey, and Libya. In the Arab-Israeli context, countries which are geographically located on the periphery in North Africa, such as Algeria, and Morocco, have sent aid and troops to join in the warfare. With regard to nuclear weapons and missiles, Pakistan is also considered to be an actor in the region. This wide and shifting definition of the region adds a major complexity to efforts to negotiate arms control agreements.
The entire area is particularly unstable and conflicts and warfare are relatively frequent. A number of the major Arab states have regional hegemonic claims. Iraq has staked its claim to parts of Iran, all of Kuwait, and other areas. The Syrian regime claims historic rights to a Greater Syria, including Lebanon and Israel, and the even the Hashemite rulers in Jordan have also displayed broader regional ambitions.
As a result, there are a number of on-going military conflicts, both between states, and within them. The Arab states and Israel have fought a number of wars since 1948. The disputes between Iran and Iraq led to the Iraqi invasion in 1980. The resulting war lasted for eight years, and caused one million casualties. On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait as its 19th province. On January 16, 1991, after United Nations sanctions and demands for withdrawal had failed, the United States led a coalition which included British, French, Egyptian, Saudi, Syrian, and other forces in an attack on Iraq. Other disputes involve Egypt and Libya, and the continuing civil war in Lebanon includes active Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi and Israeli participation. Efforts to develop restraints and arms control agreements in the region must be analyzed in the context of these broad and continuous conflicts.
In many cases, these disputes overlap and add an extra dimension of complexity to the problems of limiting conflicts and arms races. For example, during the war between Iran and Iraq, Saudi Arabia purchased a number of advanced weapons systems, including American and European combat aircraft, tanks, and missiles in response to the Iranian threat. Since Saudi Arabia also borders on Israel, and maintains a state of war with Jerusalem, this caused the Israelis to respond. Weapons purchased by Iraq during the war with Iran were later turned against Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Similarly, equipment provided to Jordan for defense against possible Syrian or Iraqi threats has been used against Israel.
The alliances and alignments in the region also change frequently, making it difficult to develop stable alliance-based arms control arrangements. During the Iran-Iraq war, Saudi Arabia supported Iraq, but after the invasion of Kuwait, the Saudis were the prime Arab force in the anti-Iraqi coalition. Jordan's relationships with Iraq and Syria have shifted continuously; at times, close links with Iraq have been used to counter the fear of Syrian encroachment, while, at other times, ties with Syria were intensified to offset Iraqi threats. These radically shifting relationships further complicate regional arms control efforts.
Another complicating factor results from the extreme asymmetry in the geopolitical situation and military forces in the Middle East. Israel's very small population (5 million) and geographic area (20,000 square kilometers prior to 1967), led to a major emphasis on advanced technology and an offensive strategy. The Arab states have much larger populations, which led to an emphasis on quantity, and, as in the case of Iraq, the development of very large ground forces. Some states in the region are extremely wealthy, and can afford to spend large sums on weapons and military deployments, while others are very poor and must find alternatives sources for weapons.
Furthermore, the conflicts in this region are essentially based on deep nationalist, ethnic, and religious antagonisms. They leave little room for compromise and negotiation. Most importantly, such conflicts tend to obscure the common interests of all sides in avoiding the high costs and destruction of warfare, the prospects of accidental war, and the dangers of unlimited arms races. In a region characterized by "jihads" and "holy wars", in which many people are told that martyrdom in war is the "key to heaven", the prospects for arms control are limited.
The extent of the regional conflicts have been compounded by external factors which have accelerated the arms races and contributed to proliferation. The extent of the multiple arms races in the Middle East reflect the deep interests and involvement of other states, including the US, the USSR, Britain, and France. During the Cold War, the competition for influence in the region took the form of military aid in return for bases, as well as political and ideological support. The large profits that are available, particularly from the oil-rich states in the region, undermine efforts to reduce the flow of weapons to the region. In the decade following the 1973 Arab- Israeli war, the US delivered more than $65 billion in military equipment and services to the Middle East. During this period, 40% of the world's arms exports went to this region. Such sums have encouraged other suppliers, including those in Europe, as well as China, Brazil, North Korea, Argentina, and India to seek sales in the Middle East. At the same time, some of the states in the region, including Israel, Egypt and Iraq, developed their own arms industries. The multiplicity of suppliers adds another complication to the problems of arms control in the Middle East.
In many cases, arms control processes are furthered by economic factors, and the efforts to limit the costs of escalating technological arms races. For many states in the Middle East, however, "money is no object". Major oil exporting states such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Libya have tens of billions of dollars to spend on weapons. (In the 1980s, Iraq spent $50 billion on the purchase of military equipment alone.) Economic factors are important for other countries, including Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, but, with a few exceptions, these concerns have not been sufficient to overcome the obstacles to arms control.
The deep seated conflicts and resulting arms races in the region are multilateral, multi-dimensional, interlocking, and asymmetric. The absence of diplomatic relations and forms of direct communication provides an additional obstacle to the development of arms control negotiations and agreements. Many arms suppliers are available, and supplier restraints andcoordination are extremely difficult to achieve. In this environment, the common fears and mutual interests that provide a basis for arms control are difficult to discern, and, as history has shown, even more difficult to achieve.
The analysis of arms races in the Middle East provides a basis for understanding the dynamics, complexities, and obstacles to arms control in the region. The Middle East is characterized by three active conflict zones, and each is marked by a continuing arms race. The broadest and longest-lived conflict zone involves the Arab states and Israel. More recently, the Persian Gulf has been more active, and the source of a series of very destructive wars. The third zone, which includes the Iraqi-Turkish-Syrian triangle, is less active, but plays a significant role in the regional balance.
Each zone has its own dynamics, and each is influenced by and influences the other two zones. As will be seen below, the interaction of the distinctive arms races in each conflict zones creates a highly complex environment for efforts to develop arms control in the Middle East.
The introduction of modern arms in the Middle East can be traced to the 1940s, in the context of the growing conflict between the Arabs and Jews over the modern state of Israel. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, when Palestine was under the British Mandate, the level of attacks and violence grew. Officially, British policy was to limit access of both sides to arms. However, the armies of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan were prime customers for massive supplies of war- surplus weapons. As a result, the British effort was largely asymmetric and had the effect of allowing the Arabs greater access to weapons. Thus, what might be called an early, if low-scale arms control effort failed to limit the conflict.
Full scale war began in May 1948, following the Israeli declaration of independence and the invasion of Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraq armies. The war ended in 1949 with a series of armistice agreements between Israel and the Arab states, but he conflict was not resolved and preparations for the next round began almost immediately.
The arms flow to the region continued after the war ended. As former colonial powers, Britain and France used weapons transfers to maintain their influence among their former colonies. In addition, the late 1940s and early 1950s coincided with the beginning of the Cold War. The superpowers sought to obtain influence among the countries in the region through arms sales. As part of its policy of containment of the Soviet Union, the United States developed networks of alliances throughout the world. In the Middle East, Turkey joined NATO, and received a substantial package of military aid. Turkey's Middle Eastern neighbors noted that by declaring themselves "under threat of Soviet or Communist aggression", they could acquire modern weapons at little or no cost.
The US invited Egypt to become a founding member of the Middle East Command. Egypt refused, but Iraq accepted and in 1954, signed a military aid agreement with the US, followed a year later by the negotiation of the Baghdad Pact (which later became known as CENTO- the Central Treaty Organization).
Britain and France also used offers of weapons to compete for influence with the Arab states. Long after the war, the British military continued to be closely involved in the staffing and command of the Jordanian army, known as the Arab Legion. (The British role continued until 1956.) A joint Anglo-Jordan Defense Board was created to coordinate policy and training. As a result, the Arab Legion became the best trained and in many ways, the best equipped army in the Arab world.
As arms flowed to Iraq, Jordan, and other states, Egyptian and Israeli leaders became concerned about the impact of a new arms race in the region, and began to seek their own sources of weapons. In 1949, the Israeli delegate to the UN warned of the growing regional arms race. He noted the Jordanian and Iraqi military links with the United Kingdom, which, he stated, would force Israel to respond in kind.
The Soviet Union sought to counter this Western build-up on its southern flank, and in 1955, negotiated a large scale sale of weapons to Egypt (which, for political reasons, was conducted via Czechoslovakia). This $200 million agreement, which included advanced tanks, aircraft, and ammunition, was a clear response on the part of both the Soviet Union and Egypt to the Baghdad Pact. A similar, but far smaller, arms sale was concluded between the Soviet Union and Syria.
From the Israeli perspectives, these substantial arms acquisitions by neighboring Arab states were seen as posing major new threats. Within a short time, Israel responded by concluding an arms deal with France. At the time, the French government was deeply involved in fighting the rebellion in Algeria, which was supported by Egypt and other Arab states, and Israel was seen as a useful regional ally.
Following the 1956 Suez war, external involvement and the regional arms race accelerated. The period prior to the 1967 war was characterized by an unrestrained arms races between Israel and Egypt, supported by the USSR and France, with an increasing role for the US. Weapons sales in the region multiplied from $2.0 billion between 1945 and 1955 to $9.25 billion in the decade which followed.
In May 1967, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria created a joint military command with the express purpose of resuming the military effort against Israel. Fearing an imminent attack from all sides, Israel launched a preemptive strike which destroyed the Arab air forces and led to an Israeli victory. In the aftermath of the war, the Arab countries continued to reject direct negotiations or recognition of Israel, and the conflict continued. Soviet support and arms shipments for Egypt and Syria increased greatly. In return, the Soviets received port facilities in Alexandria and Latakia. During this period, the US became Israel's primary source of weapons and military technology.
Throughout this period, warfare continued in various forms. The 1967 war was followed within two years by the beginning of a War of Attrition, which again led to another round of arms purchases. In October 1973, the military forces of Egypt and Syria (aided at later stages by contingents and support from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab states) suddenly attacked Israel, and the resulting war was costly for all sides. To sustain their armies, Egypt and Syria relied on arms supplies from the Soviet Union, which, in turn, led the US to agree to resupply the Israeli forces.
As in the past, the end of this war was followed by massive new arms sales in the region. Although Egypt and Israel held negotiations and signed a peace treaty in 1979, both countries received billions of dollars in new weapons and military aid from the United States. Syria announced a policy designed to reach "strategic parity" with Israel and to this end sought large scale Soviet weapons and new technology. In the 1982 Lebanon campaign, which was officially aimed at destroying the PLO terror network and "ministate", direct clashes with the Syrian military presented the IDF with the opportunity to destroy much of the new weaponry, including most of the advanced aircraft in the Syrian air force. However, on this occasion, as in the past, the Soviets replaced the Syrian weapons, and provided advanced short-range SS-21 ballistic missiles which Damascus could equip with chemical warheads.
By the end of the 1980s, Israel was also concerned about a formidable Iraqi threat, and the possibility of a combined Syrian-Iraqi attack, perhaps including Jordan and Saudi Arabian weapons. Emerging intact from the eight-year war with Iran, Saddam Hussein had created a massive army, with 55 divisions and one million soldiers (the 4th largest army in the world). The Iraqi arsenal also included thousands of tanks, artillery, and hundreds of advanced combat aircraft purchased from every major supplier in the world. Baghdad's threats to attack Israel increased in intensity and frequency. Iraqi aircraft began flying reconnaissance patrols over Jordan to the Israeli border, and joint Iraqi-Jordanian training exercises were held. This raised concerns that the Iraqi army was preparing the foundation for an attack on Israel, through Jordan.
In addition, Israel was very concerned about the Iraqi unconventional capability. Saddam Hussein's forces had used chemical weapons and ballistic missiles (both developed with substantial German assistance) in the war with Iraq, and these could readily turned against Israel. The anti-Israeli threats became more virulent, and on April 2, 1990, the Iraqi leader threatened to use chemical weapons to "incinerate half of Israel". In addition to thousands of tons of chemical weapons in the Iraqi stockpile, Baghdad was known to be pursuing biological and nuclear weapons.
In response, Israel sought to strengthen its defensive weapons capability, including the deployment of Patriot missile batteries, and the acceleration of the Arrow missile-defense system. This technology was actively tested in 1990. Israel also began launching satellites into low earth orbit, demonstrating both an advanced missile capability (which could readily strike all targets in Iraq) and the potential for launching reconnaissance satellites. The purchase of advanced weapons from the US also increased, and included the Apache helicopter, additional F-15 and F-16 combat aircraft, and other systems. Thus, by the end of the 1980s, the Arab-Israeli arms race had expanded to include a wide range of conventional as well as unconventional weapons. Instability was increasing, while the prospects for restraints and arms control were extremely remote.
In the mid-1970s, massive arms sales to Iran and Saudi Arabia became important factors in the region. As oil revenues grew, arms sales became the major vehicle by which the US and other suppliers were able to maintain access to the area's energy supplies, to keep prices low, and help "recycle" the profits back into the world economy. Iran's efforts to become a regional superpower were supported by the US, and in 1972, US President Nixon informed the Shah that, with the exception of nuclear weapons, any systems in the US arsenal would be available for purchase. Iran ordered billions of dollars of the most sophisticated weapons from the US, as well as arms from Britain and European manufactures. Between 1977 and 1980, Iran purchased over $3.4 billion in arms, technology, and military facilities.
These acquisitions led to concern in region, particularly in Saudi Arabia. The Iranian buildup and the Shah's actions in the form "of a regional policeman" threatened Saudi interests and security. The Saudis feared that their role as protector of the Islamic holy cities might be undermined by a powerful Iranian state dominated by Shia Moslems.
As their own oil wealth grew in the mid-1970s, the Saudis also began to purchase massive quantities of sophisticated arms. As in the case of Iran, the US was eager to assist Saudi Arabia in "guaranteeing its security interests and recycling its petrodollars". In 1981, the Reagan Administration agreed to sell the AWACS system as well as Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and extra fuel tanks to extend the range of Saudi F-15 combat aircraft.
Iraq was also involved in the arms race in the Persian Gulf. In addition to over $1 billion in Soviet arms provided in a 1976 agreements, the Iraqi government also purchased advanced weapons including Mirage F-1 combat aircraft from France and other European suppliers. During the 1980s, Iraq was reported to have spent $50 billion on arms and military technology. The Iraqi arsenal included 5000 tanks and thousands of artillery pieces, hundreds of advanced combat aircraft, as well as surface-to-surface missiles, and chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons development programs. These weapons, in turn, increased the fears of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, who regarded the Iraqi regime as particularly dangerous and threatening. Indeed, the Iraqis used these weapons to attack Iran in 1980, initiating the eight-year Gulf war, and again in the August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. As noted, these massive arms purchases, particularly by Iraq and Saudi Arabia, had a direct impact on the Arab-Israel balance as well. Iraq had been directly involved in the 1948, 1967 and 1973 Arab military efforts against Israel, and Saudi Arabia had sent troops and equipment to assist Arab forces in the more recent wars. Thus, the acquisition of sophisticated weapons in this zone spilled over into the Arab-Israeli zone, triggering further acquisitions and deployments. It is clear that arms races in the Middle East are closely integrated and an escalation in one region leads to responses in the others.
The countries of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria form an additional area of latent conflict and wary competition. Turkey occupies a unique position as both a European power, (and a member of NATO), and a Middle Eastern actor. The modern country of Turkey was the seat of the Ottoman Empire, and controlled the entire region, leaving a sense of caution among the other states towards this former colonial power. Turkey controls major water sources of both Syria and Iraq (the Tigris and Euphrates rivers), and the construction of dams and other water projects in Turkish territory effects supplies downstream, creating the potential for conflict. In addition, Syria claims the area of Iskenderun which borders on the Mediterranean, and which became part of Turkey in the late 1930s. Syria is accused of supporting terrorists operating in Turkey, and the potential for greater conflict exists over these issues.
As a result, Turkey and Syria follow each other's military acquisitions and deployments carefully. After Turkey joined NATO and began to receive American and European weapons, Syria turned to the Soviet Union for advanced weapons.
Historically, the political relationship between Iraq and Turkey has been relatively good, and even cooperative. However, in the 1991 Gulf war war, Turkey was an active member of the US-led coalition. Turkish bases were used for bombing missions against Iraq, and Iraq threatened retaliation. Iraq has also accused Turkey of coveting the oil-producing region of Northern Iraq near Mosul. Thus, the potential for future conflict between Iraq and Turkey has increased.
The Syrian participation in the war against Iraq is a continuation of the conflict between these two Arab powers. Historically, Damascus and Baghdad have competed for power and control in the region. In the Iran-Iraq war, Syria was the only Arab state which supported Iran, and, in return, Iraq provide weapons and other aid to anti-Syrian forces in Lebanon. In addition, to seeking "strategic parity" with Israel, Syria has also sought to match the deployment of Iraqi weapons and technology. After Iraq acquired and used improved Scud-missiles, Syria sought similar weapons. (After the Soviet Union refused Syrian requests to purchase SS-23 missiles, Damascus sought to acquire the M-9 missile from China. Initial agreement led to US pressure on Beijing to cancel the deal, and this led the Syrians to seek Scud-C missiles from North Korea. These missiles were reportedly shipped in March 1991.)
These three distinct conflict zones, with their own internal dynamics and arms races, demonstrate the complexity of attempting to develop arms control in the Middle East. These zones are overlapping, with acquisitions in one zone leading to a chain reaction in the others. Under these conditions, no single zone or conflict-area can be treated in isolation, and, as will be demonstrated below, efforts to establish arms control in a single zone have been generally unsuccessful.
The political, military, and economic conditions in the Middle East are radically different than those in other regions. As a result, arms control efforts the Middle East are more complex and the obstacles are more formidable. For example, the factors, conditions, and processes which were and continue to be important in the arms control efforts involving the United States and the Soviet Union are fundamentally different from those found in the Middle East. As a result, the techniques and lessons of such processes as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), the Intermediate Range Forces (INF) negotiations, and the Conventional Forces Europe (CFE) discussions are not directly applicable to arms control in the Arab-Israeli theater or the Persian Gulf.
Throughout the period of US-Soviet arms control negotiations, including the height of the Cold War, the two superpowers maintained diplomatic relations and managed to avoid direct military confrontations between their own forces. In addition, despite the intensity of the conflict, both sides actively and continuously sought stability in their relationship, and the avoidance of accidental war was a major goal. These shared objectives were recognized, despite the underlying conflict and tension, and common interests were discussed and pursued.
In contrast, the major adversaries in the Middle East do not communicate directly with each other, and in many cases, do not even recognize the legitimacy of all of the other states. Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other states are still at war with Israel, and refuse to recognize or negotiate directly with the Israeli government. Similarly, in August 1990, Iraq sought to destroy the existence of Kuwait as an independent state, and warfare is a constant activity in the region. Under these conditions, arms control is generally not on the agenda of most of the states, and efforts to pursue limitations and restraints are often viewed skeptically and even with disdain.
In some cases, discussions of arms control are used as a means of pursuing and extending the conflict, as each side attempts to shift blame for the escalation of the arms race on to its adversaries. For example, Israel complains that instead of discussing regional efforts and concerns regarding the dangers posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the Arab delegations to the UN Disarmament Conference and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seek to isolate Israel in the international community.
The first arms control efforts in the region coincided with the beginning of the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. The US imposed a unilateral ban on arms sales to Israel and Egypt, and the UN declared an embargo on weapons transfers to all of the combatants as part of Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. These UN efforts were largely ineffective, and during the war, the Arab forces were able to import weapons with few limitations. Israel had greater problems receiving arms, but a secret purchasing network in Europe managed to organize a steady flow of weapons. The ban was "only partial and selective", but was effective in inhibiting American transfers of arms.
After the armistice, the major powers sought to prevent a renewed outbreak of fighting and to increase stability by limiting arms sales. Although the UN embargo was formally lifted in August 1949, during the same month, the US, France, and Britain announced a coordinated effort to "regulate the flow of arms" to the region. This Tripartite Declaration was formalized in May 1950, and led to the establishment of the Near East Arms Coordinating Committee.
However, the extensive regional interests of all three powers in the region, and the competition between them, led to policies which undermined the effectiveness of the Tripartite Declaration. The Declaration included significant loopholes, including the recognition that all states "need to maintain a certain level of armed forces to assure their internal security and their legitimate self-defense." The appropriate level for each state was open to interpretation, and this was exploited by both suppliers and recipients. In reality, the major effect of the Declaration was to prevent Israel from obtaining weapons during this period.
In response to the Baghdad Pact, and the growing supply of weapons from the West to the Arab states, the Soviet Union formally introduced a series of arms control proposals. Moscow even suggested neutralization and demilitarization of the region. These proposals, which were repeated following the 1956 Suez war and the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, were not pursued in any detail and were ignored by the West. They were also inconsistent with the massive Soviet supplies of weapons to their clients in the region.
The next major arms control efforts began following the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars and the escalating arms races which followed. Immediately after the 1967 war, the US imposed an embargo on arms supplies to the region (including Israel and Saudi Arabia) and proposed a limitation agreement with the Soviet Union. The US also called for a UN sponsored agreement to register and limit arms shipments to the area. A similar proposal was discussed at the US- Soviet summit meeting which was held in Glassboro, New Jersey in 1967. The US also delayed the delivery of F- 4 Phantom combat aircraft to Israel in the hope that some form of regional limitations could be negotiated. Moscow, however, saw arms sales as an important and effective means of gaining and maintaining political influence in the Middle East, and as a result, rejected the American proposals for joint action and negotiated restraints.
Nevertheless, During this period, both the US and USSR imposed some unilateral and informal limitations on the weapons they supplied to their respective regional clients. For example, the US rejected Israeli requests for Pershing surface-to-surface missiles and other weapons. Similarly, the USSR rejected repeated Egyptian requests for exclusively offensive weapons, such as the Tu-22 bomber and the Scud missile. This Soviet policy was a major factor in Egyptian President Sadat's decision in July 1972 to end diplomatic relations with the USSR. A few months later, (prior to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur war in 1973), however, a number of Scud missiles, as well as other advanced weapons, were delivered to the Egyptians.
In the late 1970s, the US Government adopted policies which were designed to limit the flow of conventional arms in a number of regions, including the Middle East. On May 19, 1977, President Carter observed that the "spiralling arms traffic" threatens world peace, and committed the US to taking the "first step" toward reducing the global arms trade. Henceforth, arms transfers would be regarded as "an exceptional foreign policy implement." The dollar volume of government to government arms sales was to be reduced, and Carter pledged that the US will not be the first supplier to introduce newly-developed advanced weapons systems into a region. As part of this initiative, the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) initiated the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) negotiations with the Soviet Union.
In most cases, these declared policy objectives were not implemented, and the effects, particularly in the Middle East, were minimal. Indeed, during this period, the arms races in the region accelerated as the political and economic pressures which had led to massive arms sales in the past remained unchanged. The availability of oil revenues in the Middle East with which to purchase weapons, as well as the strategic and political importance of maintaining good relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia undermined this initiative. Within four months of announcing the policy, the Cater Administration had agreed to sell billion of dollars in weapons and military technology to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. These agreements included a number of highly advanced weapons, such as seven AWACS (airborne warning and control system) aircraft and 250 F-18 advanced combat aircraft for Iran, as well as 60 F-15E combat aircraft for Saudi Arabia. Jordan received substantial military grant aid. In addition, Israel (along with NATO members, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) was exempted from the overall ceiling imposed initially by Carter.
Efforts to gain restraints from other suppliers had little impact. Iraq contracted to purchase 36 F-1 Mirage advanced combat aircraft from France. This, in turn, increased pressure on other states in the region, including Iran and Israel, to acquire similar state-of- the-art combat aircraft.
The formal effort to negotiate restraints with the Soviet Union led to four meetings in the 12 months beginning in December 1977. The Soviet representatives agreed that unrestrained arms transfers were indeed a serious problem requiring attention. However, the Soviets were reluctant to discuss regional measures, or to appear to be "in collusion" with the United States against the Third World. Internal disputes within the American government, and Soviet disinterest led to the collapse of the effort.
During the 1980s, there were few formal efforts to establish restraints in the sales of conventional arms to the Middle East. In Washington, the Reagan Administration had no global policy regarding conventional arms sales, and removed the few restrictions that remained from the Carter period. The Middle East remained the major market for weapons and technology, and the US agreed to sold a multi-billion dollar package of weapons, including AWACS aircraft and advanced fighters to Saudi Arabia. Transfers to Israel and Egypt increased as well, and the US also became a source of sophisticated technology for the Iraqi military.
During this period, the US Congress became concerned about the implications of the accelerating pace of the arms races in the Middle East, and began to place limitations on American sales. Congressional action blocked the transfer of advanced tactical missiles to Saudi Arabia, and mobile air defense systems to Jordan.
In addition, on a few occasions, the US government delayed arms transfers to Israel as a means of expressing opposition to policy or government actions. In 1981, following the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear weapons plant by the Israeli Air Force, the US placed an embargo on the delivery of advanced aircraft. (In 1991, the US government acknowledged the importance of this Israeli action in preventing the development of an Iraqi nuclear threat.) Similar actions were taken during the Lebanese war in 1982. These were isolated incidents, however, and were not designed as arms control measures. In general, throughout the 1980s, arms control in the Middle East was largely neglected. The unrestrained competition between the suppliers allowed Iraq to build up a massive military capability, which led to the invasion of Kuwait and the threats to Saudi Arabia and Israel. These threats, in turn, resulted in the subsequent American decision to destroy the military arsenal.
In some regions of conflict, demilitarized zones and reduced- force areas can provide a means of preventing accidental clashes and reduce mutual fears of surprise attack. In the Arab-Israel context, some efforts have been taken in this direction, with mixed results. The 1949 Armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt, and between Israel and Syria included narrow demilitarized zones. However, these zones were too small to have a significant impact and were sources of continuous clashes.
After the 1956 war, Egypt refrained from stationing significant numbers of armed forces in the Sinai Peninsula separating Egypt and Israel. This de facto limited-force zone reduced the possibility of accidental clashes between the Israeli and Egyptian military forces, and served in general to reduce tensions.
These limitations, however, did not prevent Egypt from developing a military infrastructure, including airbases, supply depots, forward defensive positions, roads, and water pipes. In May 1967, the Egyptians moved large forces into these fortified positions in the Sinai, creating a major threat to Israel in a very short period of time.
The separation of forces agreements which followed the 1973 war, and the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty included formal demilitarization and reduced forces zones in the Sinai. When the war ended, negotiations began (at kilometer 101 on the main road through the Sinai) which led to a number of agreements between Israel and Egypt. These talks were the first formal, direct negotiations between Israel and any Arab state since the armistice agreements in 1949.
The first set of agreements in January 1974 and September 1975 led to Israeli withdrawal from the Suez Canal. The two sides, aided by the mediation of US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, agreed to a number of limitations. These included the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone, limitations on deployment in contiguous areas, and the stationing of an American peacekeeping force in the region. In addition, Israel retained its strategic surveillance and early warning station in western Sinai, and Egypt was allowed to construct and operate a similar station. The US established the Sinai Support Mission which was responsible for providing Israel and Egypt with tactical early warning of unauthorized movement or preparations. The SSM operated its own early warning station and carried out monthly aerial reconnaissance flights over the region.
The Camp David agreements and the 1979 Peace Treaty included additional demilitarization measures. The Israeli-built airfields in Sinai were restricted to civil use, limited force zones were established near the border, and the use of early warning stations was extended. In addition, an international force (which became known as the Multilateral Force and Observers) was stationed in the area to insure compliance. In addition, a joint Israel-Egypt commission was established to monitor implementation. In over a decade of operation, these mechanisms have proven to be effective in preventing clashes and in resolving disputes between the two states.
In other areas, however, even if the political obstacles could be overcome, geographical factors complicate the creation of demilitarized zones. Israel is very small and narrow, and there are few regions in which more than a few kilometers can be practically demilitarized. In the 1979 Peace Treaty with Egypt, partial demilitarization covered 120 kilometers in the Sinai Peninsula. Similar zones on the northern or eastern fronts would extend beyond Damascus and Amman.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons - as well as delivery systems such as medium range regional- strategic ballistic missiles, and long-range heavy bombers such as the Soviet Su-24, is accelerating in the Middle East. Iraq, Libya, and Syria (and perhaps Israel and Egypt) possess chemical weapons. Iraq sought to develop biological weapons and Saddam Hussein also actively pursued a nuclear capability. Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia possess ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in Israel, and Libya and Egypt are seeking similar weapons. (In 1991, during the war which followed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Iraq launched 39 missiles against Israel, even though Israel was not involved in the war. Over 7000 dwellings were damaged, and hundreds of people were injured.) For its part, Israel has highlighted its own nuclear and missile capabilities, in order to strengthen deterrence and to increase the ability to launch preemptive and preventive strikes against Arab missiles and non-conventional weapons.
The political, geographic and demographic conditions in the Middle East create a highly instable environment for these weapons. The short distances involved favor the adoption of highly unstable "launch on warning" policies. In many states, the population is concentrated in one or two urban areas, thus making them highly vulnerable to a "decapitating" first strike. Geographically, in Israel and other small states, there is no place to put ground-based second- strike forces, while a dispersed fleet of submarines is beyond the technological means of most of the states involved. A nuclear first strike could destroy retaliatory capabilities.
In the Middle East, the viability of mutual deterrence and the fear of large scale destruction is unclear, at best. Deterrence is considered to be stabilizing when all the countries involved are essentially "status quo" powers, satisfied with the political and economic conditions in the region. In contrast, however, few of the Arab and Islamic countries in the Middle East can be considered status quo powers. Many of these states, including Iraq, Syria, and Libya, have supported radical policies designed to change the political and economic status quo. Under these circumstances, deterrence does not often work.
Furthermore, leaders such as Saddam Hussein, the Ayatollah Khomeni, and Egyptian's former President Nasser were widely perceived as willing to sacrifice millions of lives in pursuit of their goals. These leaders called on their Islamic and Arab followers to sacrifice themselves in "holy jihads against the infidels and the Zionists". When a leader or country is willing to absorb very high losses, the threats of retaliation in response to attack, and the efforts to avoid a nuclear exchange are not necessarily effective.
Under these conditions, any external efforts to develop restraints on the acquisition of weapons and technology are faced with clear obstacles. It is not surprising that the NPT agreement, London Suppliers' Group, Missile Technology Control Regimes, the "Australia Group" regarding chemical warfare technology, have failed to prevent the proliferation of unconventional weapons in the region.
Many analysis as well as political leaders argue that the 1967 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has proven to be largely ineffective and even counterproductive in the Middle East. Although Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and, as of 1989, Saudi Arabia, have signed and ratified the NPT, in these cases, this has not prevented continued efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons capability.
Israel has never acknowledged the possession of nuclear weapons, but has also not signed the NPT. The Israeli nuclear program began in the late 1950s, when Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion viewed these weapons as providing the ultimate guarantee against the continuing Arab hostility and efforts to destroy the state. Ben- Gurion and his supporters, including Moshe Dayan, argued that the conventional capability of the Arab states would continue to grow until they could overwhelm Israel. In the past decades, Arab oil revenues have funded the acquisition of massive quantities of the most advanced weapons and technology in the world. As Israel's ability to purchase similar weapons has declined, and its qualitative superiority has diminished, the dependence on some form of unconventional balancer has grown. Under these conditions, Israel considers the maintenance of an ambiguous nuclear potential to be justified and essential for national survival, and as a result, has rejected the terms of the NPT.
A number of other Middle Eastern states have sought to acquire nuclear weapons, even though they are not faced with such external threats to survival. Iraq has developed a very advanced infrastructure involving nuclear materials and technology. The Tammuz I graphite reactor was acquired from France (and destroyed by an Israel air attack in 1981), hot cells for separating the plutonium from spent fuel were obtained from Italy, and Iraqi agents sought to smuggle triggering devices in 1990. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Iraq acquired 250 tons of uranium ore concentrate, which is technically not subject to IAEA safeguards. This is apparently the source of material used by Iraq in the gas centrifuge uranium separation facilities developed with the assistance of German technology and technicians.
Other states in the region, including NPT signatories, continue to pursue nuclear weapons. Libya has sought to purchase weapons and components, and there are indications that Iran has not given up its hopes of developing nuclear weapons. There are also reports that Egypt has sought Chinese aid in developing nuclear weapons in the past. Saudi Arabia is reported to have assisted in the funding of the Pakistani nuclear weapons program, in exchange for assistance in the development of an "Islamic bomb". Thus, the NPT has failed to stop or significantly slow the spiral of proliferation in the Middle East.
The Israeli government claims that many of the Arab states which have signed the NPT "pay lip service" to its terms, while continuing to pursue nuclear weapons. In contrast, as an open democratic state, the Israelis claim that they would not be able to ignore the obligations of the Treaty.
Efforts to develop restraints on nuclear proliferational in the Middle East are further hampered by the nature of the safeguards on nuclear facilities and materials operated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the framework of the NPT. In the Middle East, this system has been inadequate and failed to provide the necessary assurances to justify acceptance of limitations, particularly in the case of Israel. The IAEA safeguards are formally designed to provide "timely detection" of any significant diversion, and thereby to deter such diversion, or to allow the international community to take action in response. Safeguards include surveillance cameras placed to monitor facilities and materials, seals to detect tampering, accounting methods to determine whether diversion has taken place, and inspections.
This may be adequate for states like Sweden and Canada, which, in any case, have no interest in developing nuclear weapons. However, for Iraq and Libya, which have sought to acquire nuclear weapons, materials and facilities under the guise of a "peaceful" nuclear program, analysts argue that the system is inadequate. To be effective, the technology would have to be updated, the staff would have to be increased in size, and procedures changed in order to prevent diversion.
During the war which followed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein declared that Iraq had developed a nuclear capability, and threatened to use it against American troops or against cities in Saudi Arabia and Israel. The enriched uranium under IAEA safeguards (12 kg which had been used to fuel the Tammuz I reactor and 28 kg from a Soviet-supplied research reactor) was apparently moved to an unknown location prior to the beginning of the war, giving these threats, some credibility. This incident has not served to enhance the status of the NPT and IAEA safeguards in the Middle East.
Even when there is no active war, the effectiveness of the safeguards system is open to doubts. This system is enveloped in and subordinate to political processes. In general, the IAEA system is a compromise between the technical requirements of an effective set of measures to prevent diversion, and political limitations. The safeguard agreements for every country and facility are the result of negotiations between the IAEA and the countries involved. In some cases, countries refuse to meet the requirements of the IAEA, or seek to negotiate less stringent safeguards. In addition, the safeguards agreements and the data gathered by inspectors is secret. The inspectors' reports and any indication of diversions are delivered to the IAEA Secretary General and Board of Governors, which then is authorized to determine whether indeed, a diversion has taken place, and then reports its findings to the UN Security Council.
Each of these stages, from the negotiation of the safeguards agreement, through the selection of inspectors and other personnel in the safeguards division, to the deliberations of the Board of Governors, is essentially political. A number of Arab states, including Iraq, are members of the IAEA Board of Governors, while Israel is systematically excluded by Arab hostility. In the context of the Middle East, "timely detection" of diversion is far from certain, and does not constitute a reliable deterrent against abuses of nuclear material and facilities. The international response following Iraq's use of chemical weapons and the continued development of Libyan and Iraqi chemical and missile capabilities was minimal, and these precedents do not inspire confidence in any kind of regime contingent on international action.
The proliferation of unconventional weapons in the region began in the early 1960s, when Egypt used chemical agents in Yemen and Nasser sought to acquire missiles. Since then, chemical weapons and missiles have proliferated widely, and large stockpiles exits in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. These weapons of mass destruction have been used by Iraq against both military and civilian targets. As a result, verifiable limits on these weapons have become important elements in discussions regarding arms control in the Middle East.
As in efforts to control other weapons, chemical arms control poses a complex and difficult challenge, particularly in this region. Prior to the January 1991 war, Iraq had built a number of chemical and gas warfare manufacturing centers, and amassed thousands of tons of deadly agents. In any comprehensive control regime, both the stockpiles and the production of nerve gas (sarin and tabun), mustard gas, and similar weapons must be included.
To date, efforts to limit chemical weapons proliferation in the region have been limited to broad international efforts and conferences. In 1989, a number of Middle Eastern states, including Iraq, Libya, Jordan and Syria requested observer status in the context of the Ad Hoc Committee on Chemical Weapons of the Conference on Disarmament. These states, as well as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, and Israel, participated in the Paris Conference on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. While Israeli delegates noted, the large-scale development of chemical weapons in many Arab states, these states countered by claiming that chemical weapons are "a poor nation's equivalent of nuclear weapons". The Government-Industry Conference against Chemical Weapons (GICCW), which took place in Canberra, Australia in 1989, also included representatives of regional powers, including Israel, Iraq, and Iran. Statements similar to those made at the Paris conference were repeated. These experiences demonstrated that large-scale international forums do not generally further arms control efforts for the region, and, to the degree which they are used for propaganda purposes, to attack policies of other states, can actually be counter-productive.
Efforts to restrict the manufacture and production of chemical and biological weapons in the region generally focus on preventing the import or local fabrication of raw materials which are used for the production of chemical weapons. In most cases in the Middle East, the materials and plants for these weapons are largely obtained from external sources. For example, the large plants at Samarra in Iraq, and Rabta in Libya were based on technology, equipment and raw materials imported from Germany. There are many other advanced developing states and industrialized Third World countries, such as India and Brazil, which can supply the components necessary for developing chemical weapons. Thus, an arms control regime based on efforts to prevent the import of this equipment and materials will require the cooperation of a large number of states throughout the world.
In the Middle East, it is generally acknowledged that such a regime must also deal effectively with the problem of what are known as "grey" or "dual-use" technologies and materials. Although German law technically forbids the sale of military equipment to states involved in armed conflicts, the export of precursors used to make deadly chemical weapons was allowed as "civilian material" - largely in the form of pesticide plants and materials. An critics of German policy have noted, the exemption for dual-use technology and civilian material which can be used to make chemical weapons constitutes a major loophole in arms control efforts.
Even a complete ban on exports would leave open the possibility of indigenous development of chemical weapons. For example, Iraq has sought to build and operate plants designed to produce ethylene oxide, and which is the basis for thiodyglycol, which, in turn, is a precursor for the production of mustard gas. However, this and similar plants are still based on the import of foreign technology, and no state, with the possible exception of Egypt, is considered capable of an entirely indigenous production effort. Thus, an effective global ban on exports, including dual-use facilities and materials, could conceivably provide a technical basis for chemical arms control in the Middle East.
Alternatively, or in addition, it is at least theoretically possible that the countries in the Middle East might be persuaded to agree to mutual restraints on the import and development of these weapons. It is clear that as the availability of chemical agents in the region spreads, the civilian populations of all countries become endangered. In addition to fearing an attack by an enemy armed with chemical weapons, the civilian population in a country which possesses these weapons, such as Iraq, is also vulnerable to effects of a release of toxic chemicals in their own country. This can occur either as a result of accidents, or from an attack from outside forces. During the bombing of Iraqi military production and weapons storage areas in January and February 1991, there were reports that small amounts of chemicals had been released. (If, however, these materials are stored in a more sophisticated binary form, the effects of such releases can minimized.) Thus, all the countries in the region have an interest in placing limits on the spread of chemical weapons, and this could potentially result in an agreement limiting the production of such agents.
It should be noted that in addition to providing a loophole through which the import of chemical weapons could be disguised, the production of pesticides, fertilizer, and pharmaceuticals are legitimate and important economic activities. Thus, a total ban on these activities seems very unlikely and even undesirable. Instead, in order to prevent the furtive production of chemical weapons, an arms control regime could place all facilities capable of being used for this purpose under effective inspection and verification procedures. Chemical arms control measures must address the problem of "breakout", in which a country that operates a pesticide or fertilizer facility suddenly seeks to convert that facility into a chemical weapons production plant.
Technologies have been developed which can contribute to verification of limitations on chemical weapons. Chromatographic and spectrometric instruments can measure the gas content in the air in very small quantities, so that production of banned materials could be detected with a high degree of confidence. Inspection on demand, and other verification techniques could also be developed.
In addition, the Middle East is currently the only region in the world in which biological warfare is a concrete possibility. Iraq developed a broad biological weapons development program. In its production center in Salman Pak, Iraq is reported to have stockpiled botulin, and perhaps anthrax, typhoid, and cholera toxins.
In a broad sense, the requirements for the control of biological weapons are similar to those discussed with respect to chemical weapons. These include a ban on import of components, facilities, or materials, and careful control of possible "dual use" or "grey" facilities.
The spread of ballistic missiles in the region adds a further source of instability. When armed with chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, these missiles are capable of large-scale destruction of cities and other civilian targets. In order to prevent or slow this process of proliferation, the United States sponsored the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This regime, which was negotiated in 1987, included the US, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, and Japan. Under the MTCR, these countries agreed not to export ballistic missiles or technology capable of being fashioned into missiles with payloads exceeding 500 kg and ranges of 300 km or more.
Although the Soviet Union was not officially a party to the MTCR, informally, Moscow agreed to adopt similar restrictions. In September 1989, US Secretary of State Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze agreed to "active bilateral consultations" to prevent proliferation of ballistic missiles and related technology. Despite repeated Syrian requests, the USSR refused to sell its advanced SS-23 missile.
The Chinese government in Beijing was initially not involved in the MTCR, and during the 1980s, sought to increase arms sales to the Middle East. In the wake of the refusal of the two major powers, as well as most European suppliers to sell missiles to the region, the PRC began to enter the market. Relatively obsolete nuclear-capable CSS-2 ICBMs from the Chinese inventory were sold to Saudi Arabia, and Silkworm anti-shipping missiles were sold to Iran and Iraq. China also entered into negotiations to sell the advanced and relatively accurate M-9 missile to Syria.
In response to US pressure, China delayed shipment of the M-9 missile to Syria. However, just as this supplier removed itself from the regional market, North Korea took its place. In early 1991, press reports indicated that North Korean Scud-C ballistic missiles equipped with mobile launchers were enroute to Syria. These missiles are reported to have a range of 600 km and a payload of 1000 kg, but like other Scud-based missiles, are relatively inaccurate.
Iraq has made an extensive effort to acquire surface-to-surface ballistic missiles. In addition to the short-range Scud-B, which Iraq, like many other Arab states, acquired from the Soviet Union, Baghdad sought longer range missiles capable of hitting more distant targets like Teheran and Tel Aviv. Iraq financed a large portion of the Condor missile program, which included Egypt and Argentina. When US government pressure forced an end to this collaboration in the mid- 1980s, Iraq sought to extend the range of its Scud-Bs. German and French technicians and firms provided the technology necessary for this effort. As a result, the "Al-Hussein" and "Al-Abbas" were developed and used during the eight-year war with Iran, and against Israel and Saudi Arabia during the 1991 conflict. The use of mobile launchers allowed Iraqi forces to elude aircraft which were given the mission of destroying this capability. Although these missiles are highly inaccurate and had little military effect, they were a terror weapon against cities, and had a significant psychological impact. The fear that the warheads could be equipped with chemical or biological agents increased the fear among civilians in the target cities.
The Israeli missile effort began in the 1950s, in response to an Egyptian missile development program which employed German scientists and technology. At first, Israel received technological assistance from France, but by the 1980s, had developed an advanced indigenous capability. Although the Israeli government has never officially acknowledged the existence of these missiles, press reports discuss the testing and deployment of relatively long-range and accurate Jericho missiles. The same technology was apparently used to launch Israel's first satellites in 1989 and 1990, and also provides the basis for the Arrow anti- tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) under development by Israel Aircraft Industries.
The efforts of the MTCR were clearly "too little, too late". By the end of the 1980s, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel possessed ballistic missiles capable of striking each other's major cities and bases, and Egypt, Libya, and other states were seeking a similar capability. The use of these missiles by Iraq and the possibility that a missile exchange could lead to widespread civilian casualties has led to some discussion of arms control agreements focusing on limiting the deployment of missiles in the region. In 1989, the United States sponsored preliminary discussions involving Israel and Egypt. Following the war against Iraq in 1991, the US included arms control in general, and limits on the deployment of ballistic missiles in particular, on the negotiating agenda for the "new regional order".
Verification is an important element in any arms control system, and effective limitations in the Middle East will require major efforts in this area. As noted above, in the case of many countries, including Iraq and Libya, compliance with current international agreements and compliance systems has been criticized as inadequate. Both Iraq and Libya have signed the 1967 NPT agreement, and are ostensibly bound by the IAEA safeguard system, but this has not prevented the leaders of these states from actively seeking nuclear weapons. Similarly, Iraq signed (but did not ratify) the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development and possession of biological weapons, but Saddam Hussein invested heavily in the development of deadly toxins. In general, broad international regimes and verification systems based on the fear of detection and the threat of international sanctions do not provide an inadequate basis for arms control in the Middle East.
Under these circumstances, effective safeguards, verification, and assurances against sudden "breakout" will require the development of specialized institutions. Mutual restraint will have to monitored directly by the nations involved. A proposed international satellite reconnaissance agency which "filtered" the unprocessed data in any way would be considered unreliable for similar reasons. Here, as in the case of the IAEA, there is little trust or confidence that vital national interests would be protected by an international agency. (A means would also have to be devised to insure that satellite data would not enable the states to target their enemies, to prepare a first strike, or to exploit the information in other ways.) Based on previous experience, Israel will only agree to any system of restraints if it is able to monitor compliance independently and with its own resources.
As noted above, any system of safeguards and verification for nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as surface-surface ballistic missiles, must solve the ambiguities posed by dual-use technologies, materials and facilities which can be used for both civil and military purposes. Countries like Iraq have attempted to disguise missile development as in the form of research for space launchers, chemical weapons in the form of pesticides, and nuclear weapons facilities as a nuclear energy research program (even though Iraq is one of the world's largest petroleum producers). Effective safeguards will require that dual-use facilities and materials are operated transparently and open to full public inspection and verification. Secret programs and other loopholes which involve such technologies are a source of distrust and would endanger a system of arms control and restraints.
The most critical area in which discussions and analysis have sought to specify these requirements concerns nuclear weapons. The possibility of a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) has been under discussion since 1974, when Egypt and Iran raised the issue in the United Nations. In general, the concept of a regional NWFZ is based on the Latin American model as negotiated in the Treaty of Tlatelolco, (which served as the basis for the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone established in 1985).
In 1980, the Israeli government declared support for the concept of a NWFZ, in large part as a result of the difficulties inherent in the structure of the IAEA and the operation of the safeguards sytem in the Middle East. All the states in the region have declared themselves in favor of an NWFZ, although the terms of reference vary. Under the Israeli proposal, inspection would be performed by teams consisting of the countries in the region, with Israeli personnel monitoring activities in the Arab states and the reverse. With the spread of chemical and biological weapons, both Israel and Egypt have proposed to include these agents in any regional agreement.
In 1988, the United Nations General Assembly created a committee to examine the issue. The report was published in October 1990, and explictly examines the terms required for "effective and verifiable measures" which would facilitate the establishment of a NWFZ. The committee discussed the problems of defining the states to be included, suggesting that all the members of the Arab League, as well as Iran, Israel and perhaps Pakistan be included. The report also discusses the need for a system of "verification and control", noting the weaknesses of the IAEA safeguards in guaranteeing compliance with the terms of the NWFZ. A regional verification system, however, requires much closer cooperation than currently exists. The negotiation and operation of an NWFZ would require direct discussions between the states, and a moderate level of cooperation. With the exception of Egypt, the Arab states have been unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of Israel, or to hold formal direct negotiations. (It should be recalled that even during the height of the Cold War between the US and the USSR, diplomatic relations and lines of communication were maintained.) As the UN committee concludes, the negotiation of a NWFZ must be related "to other measures to reduce the danger of hostilities and to strengthen Israeli confidence that a true and lasting peace was being built." In general, arms control proposals are predicated on a significant political change and an amelioration of the basic conflicts, which, however desirable, are not readily attainable in the short term.
Alternatively, some form of unilateral monitoring and safeguards might be developed similar to the "non- intrusive national technical means" used in the US- Soviet context. (These means included reconnaissance satellites and a system of seismic monitoring stations to detect underground nuclear tests.) As in the case of early US-Soviet restraints in the 1960s, these systems could conceivably be developed through informal or third-party negotiations and tacit agreements. Israel is already in the process of developing its own first-generation reconnaissance satellite system.
Beyond the immediate problems of negotiation and verification, the development of a NWFZ in the Middle East must find solutions to the issues of nuclear material and weapons that may already exist, particularly in the case of Israel. Even if Israel were willing to place the Dimona reactor under safeguards, the plutonium which has been produced over a period of many years, and which might have been manufactured into weapons or components, would somehow have to be included.
The war with Iraq, and the threats which accompanied that war, led to renewed arms control efforts. The Canadian and Japanese governments proposed broad international efforts to curb arms sales, as well as international notification and registration of transactions, with particular emphasis on the Middle East.
In June 1991, the Bush Administration circulated an initiative specifically designed to further arms control in the Middle East. This proposal included limitations of the transfer of conventional weapons, as well as missiles, chemical and biological weapons, and nuclear technology, materials, and components. This marked the first time that these elements had been linked in a single framework. In addition, the American effort included a broad range of countries including the Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, states of the Maghreb, and the Gulf. No other proposal had sought to include the overlapping arms races and states in the region.
The conventional weapons limitations focused on restraints among the major weapons suppliers, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and incorporating the other members of the "G-7" (the group of seven advanced industrial nations, which also includes Germany, Italy, and Japan). Together, these countries account for the bulk of military sales to the Middle East. The US initiative called on these states to avoid destabilizing transfers and to establish effective export controls.
With regard to missiles, the proposal called for a freeze on the acquisition, production, and testing of surface-to-surface missiles, and their ultimate elimination. The states in the region were also called upon to join international bans of chemical and biological weapons, and to undertake confidence building measures in these areas. With regard to nuclear weapons, the initiative called for a verifiable ban on the production and acquisition of enriched uranium and separated plutonium, adherence to the NPT, and acceptance of IAEA safeguards pending the longer term goal of creating a nuclear weapons free zone.
These proposals did represent a major new effort
to establish restraints in the Middle East, and were
welcomed by some of the states, including Israel, as a
usual basis for further discussions. The Israeli
Minister of Defense, Moshe Arens, even suggested that
Israel would accept a comprehensive freeze on
conventional weapons if it was properly verified.
However, there was still a high degree of ambiguity
surrounding these measures. The U.S. government was
criticized for announcing arms sales totalling over $24
billion to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel at the same
time, thereby undermining its own proposal. In
addition, the Syrian government, which received $2
billion from Saudi Arabia, used these funds to purchase
Scud-C missiles from North Korea and again sought M-9
missiles from China. The Iraqi obstruction of efforts
by the United Nations to enforce the terms of the
ceasefire resolution, which stipulated the supervised
destruction of Iraqi missiles, and chemical,
biological, and nuclear materials and facilities, also
did not increase the prospects for voluntary restraint
on the part of the other states in the Middle East.
Nevertheless, the pace of discussions regarding arms
control increased significantly during this period.
In the context of the Middle East, restraints and limitations on weapons acquisition and deployment will only be considered if they are clearly linked to the national security and vital interests of the states involved. Given the intensity of conflict and the frequency of warfare in the region, proposals which involve considerable risk and loss of flexibility are not very plausible. Under current circumstances, when forced to choose between arms control and national security, the latter will generally prevail.
The asymmetry of the region, and the extreme imbalance of resources, geography, and politics must also be considered in any arms control efforts. As the 1990 Report of the United Nations General Assembly notes, efforts to convince Israel to relinquish its nuclear option while Arab states continue to threaten to destroy the Jewish state, and continue to maintain a massive conventional capability, have little chance of success. Similarly, realistic arms control proposals for the region must incorporate the various components and zones, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and even Libyan long-range bombers, missiles and unconventional weapons.
In attempting to design a realistic framework for arms control measures in the Middle East, two broad approaches can be defined. One means is based on efforts to create external control in order to deny the states in the region access to weapons and technology. Alternatively, arms control could be pursued through agreements and the adoption of restraints among the states themselves.
In the past, the major approach to arms control in the region have been based on the former approach. The Trilateral Agreement, as well as broader international efforts such as the NPT and the MTCR, have depended on the willingness of suppliers of weapons and technology to impose restraints. However, as noted above, these efforts have been ineffective. Technology is pourous, and competition between the US and USSR, as well as the large profits which are associated with sales of weapons and the increasing number of suppliers make such restraints difficult to maintain.
Changes in the international system, and the prospects of cooperation between the US and Soviet Union, might improve the possibility for such restraints in arms sales to the Middle East. As noted above, the Soviet Union cooperated with US efforts to limit the transfer of missiles and missile technology to the region. In the wake of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the threat posed by Iraq's massive conventional and unconventional arsenal to all states in the Middle East, other arms suppliers also began to discuss stronger limitations. However, immediately after the war, the US also announced intentions of selling billions of dollars of advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This will lead to pressures from other states to acquire more weapons, and will provide legitimacy for other suppliers, including the Soviet Union and France, to sell to their traditional clients, such as Iraq and Syria. (In addition, Saudi Arabia provided Syria with $3 billion in aid in return for Syrian participation in the anti-Iraqi coalition. These funds were used to acquire new weapons, including Scud-C missiles from North Korea.)
Given these limitations, it is possible that the development and negotiation of arms control measures in the Middle East will depend on the second approach, in which the cooperation of the countries in the region is central. This approach rests on the realization among the leaders of these states of a common interest in security and survival. To develop an effective arms control regime, it is necessary to develop an environment in which the leaders of the regional powers become aware of the existence of common dangers inherent in conditions of chronic instability, mutual fear of first strike, and the possibility of accidental war, and to also bring about an understanding of the common interests in avoiding these situations.
In the past, the ethnic, national, and religious hatreds and conflicts in the region have prevented the recognition of these common dangers. In contrast to Europe and the US, there are no anti-war movements in the Arab and Islamic world. (In Israel, groups such as "Peace Now" do exist and are active, but they are hampered by the absence of a parallel in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Jordan, etc.) The 1991 Gulf War may have highlighted the dangers of an uninhibited arms race and the possibilities of mass destruction for all the states in the region. The damage resulting from the "precision" American attacks on Baghdad demonstrated the type of destruction which an all-out Israeli reprisal raid could bring. Iraqi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and Israel demonstrated the dangers of the proliferation of these weapons.
In addition, economic factors may play a role in contributing to arms control. In the mid-1980s, Syrian efforts to acquire advanced weapons were suddenly halted by the absence of funds. Similarly, arms purchases by Egypt, Jordan, and Israel have also been reduced by major budgetary limitations. On June 7 1988, during an address before the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister Shamir noted that, "In 1986, we proposed to negotiate a reduction of forces in the Middle East. We know that the burden of the arms race is devastating to the economies of all the countries in the region - and it is getting worse."
Given the political realities and limitations on direct negotiations and formal threaties, some analysts have suggested that steps towards arms limitations begin through informal, more gradual "confidence building measures" (CBM). Such informal steps do not require elaborate political ceremony, or explicit and formal changes in the political relations. CBMs in Europe, as developed in the Stockholm and Vienna agreements, provided the basis for more formal US- Soviet arms control measures. These CBMs included direct adversary observation on the ground, exchanges of information regarding deployments, challenge inspections, and pre-notification for military exercises. The hope is that after the successful operation of CBMs, more formal limitations can be negotiated in the Middle East as well.
CBMs and "rules of agreement" have been developed in the case of Israeli-Syrian relations in Lebanon and the Golan Heights. Rules of engagement and a system of "red-lines" were developed tacitly in mid-1970s. Using third-party communications via Washington, agreements on limitations regarding the movement of Syrian and Israeli aircraft were also developed.
However, in the broader context of the Middle East, a system of CBMs will be much more difficult to negotiate. Substantial limitations and measures require minimal forms of mutual recognition, communication, and civility that do not now exist. Indeed, agreements regarding prior warning and efforts to avoid surprise attack would interfere with Arab states still hoping to attack Israel in the future. Given the Iraqi use of missiles against Tel Aviv, there is little indication that measures such as prior notification of missile launches and crisis centers designed to prevent escalation and the use of ballistic missiles during a war can be negotiated without a radical change in the political climate.
In the Middle East, as in other regions, arms control is essentially a political process, and progress in this field is inseperable from changes in the political relationship between the states. Successful pursuit of arms control would have a positive effect on prospects for overall reduction of tensions and peaceful settlement of disputes in the region. At the same time, however, successful arms control depends on basic political changes and amelioration of conflict and both goals must be pursued simultaneously. Without progress towards settlements of the endemic conflicts in the region, the prospects for arms control are limited.
Despite the complexity of the issues, the long process towards arms control in the Middle East must begin somewhere. As in the case of the US and Soviet Union, the nuclear and chemical "swords of Damocles" which threaten to destroy every major city and nation in the region, must, in the long term, bring about the political changes and "detente" which will facilitate mutual survival. Bibliography
The history of the arms races and wars in the Middle East since 1945 is traced in a number of basic works on this region. The volume by J.C. Hurewitz, Middle East Politics: The Military Dimension, (Praeger, New York, 1969) is a source of basic information on this period, in general, and on the Tripartite Declaration in particular. The essay by Michael Oren in Arms Control in the Middle East, edited by Dore Gold (Boulder, Colo. Westview, and Tel Aviv University, JCSS Study No. 15, 1990) provides further insights. A comprehensive overview of the Arab-Israeli conflict is presented by Nadav Safran, From War to War: The Arab Israeli Confrontation 1948-1967, (New York, Pegasus, 1969). The current balance of power and trends in the arms race are presented in Middle East Military Balance- 1989-1990, Joseph Alpher editor, Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University, (Westview Press, 1989).
Specific efforts to address the arms control issues in the Middle East can be found in Yair Evron, "The Role of Arms Control in the Middle East," (Adelphi Paper 138, IISS London, UK, 1977). The US efforts to limit conventional arms sales in the region are included in Andrew Pierre, The Global Politics of Arms Sales, (Princeton University Press, 1982) and by Robert E. Harkavy and Stephanie G. Neuman, in "U.S. Arms Transfer and Arms Control Policies: The Middle East", in Steven L. Spiegel, Mark A. Heller, and Jacob Goldberg, editors, The Soviet-American Competition in the Middle East, (Lexington Books, Lexington, Mass., 1988). A detailed analysis of the Arms Transfers Talks (CAT) is provided by H.Y. Schandler, R.G. Bell, R.F. Grimmett, and R. D. Shuey, "Implications of President Carter's Arms Transfer Policy", (Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, Washington DC, September 1977) The role of dismilitarized zones and early warning stations in the Middle are considered by Evron, as well as Brian S. Mandell in "The Sinai Experience: Lessons in Multimethod Arms Control Verification and Risk Management", Department of External Affairs, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1987.
The proliferation of non-conventional weapons in the region is detailed by Seth Carus, The Genie Unleashed: Iraq's Chemical and Biological Weapons Production, (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1989). Mike Eisenstadt provides information on the Iraqi efforts in "The Sword of the Arabs:" Iraq's Strategic Weapons (Washington Institute Policy Paper 21, Washington DC 1990). Iranian and Libyan nuclear programs are discussed by Leonard Spector, The Undeclared Bomb: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons 1987- 1988 (Ballinger, Cambridge, Mass., 1988), while the nuclear Israeli program is examined by Shai Feldman in Israeli Nuclear Deterrence: A Strategy for the 1980s, (New York, Columbia University Press, 1982). Specific information of the spread of missiles in the region is contained in Aharon Levran, "Threats Facing Israel from surface-to-surface Missiles, IDF Journal, Winter 1990, and Janne Nolan and Albert D. Whellon, "Third World Ballistic Missiles", Scientific American, Vol. 263, No. 2 August 1990. The implications are analyzed by Gerald M. Steinberg, "The Middle East in the Missile Age", Issues in Science and Technology, Vol. 4, No. 4, 1989.
The discussion of non-conventional arms control in the Middle East is limited. An analysis of many of the critical issues regarding verification and options for confidence building measures is found in Arms Control in the Middle East, edited by Dore Gold (Boulder, Colo. Westview, and Tel Aviv University, JCSS Study No. 15, 1990). The positions of most Middle East states regarding limits on chemical and biological weapons are considered by S.J. Lundin, in "Multilateral and bilateral talks on chemical and biological weapons", SIPRI Yearbook 1990: World Armaments and Disarmament, Oxford U. Press, 1990. For information regarding the Israeli proposals, see Avi Becker, "A Non-Proliferation Treaty for the Middle East", in Louis Rene Beres, ed., Security or Armageddon, Lexington Books, Lexington, Mass., 1986