The Logic of a Nuclear-Free Mideast
Nabil Fahmy, Ambassador in Residence, the American University in Cairo
Since the 1995 Nuclear Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, Egypt has led a movement to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. But so far, that effort has not succeeded because of "Israeli refusal to participate" and the lack of Western pressure on Israel to do so, says Nabil Fahmy, Egypt's ambassador to the United States from 1999 to 2008 and now a top Egyptian expert on arms control. As to Iran, Fahmy says that there is opposition to further sanctions not only from Arab states that are irritated with Israel's refusal to join the NPT, but also from countries like Brazil and Turkey, which just negotiated a deal in which Iran will ship about half of its nuclear fuel to Turkey. A zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would create "a nuclear symmetry" and create uniform obligations and verification controls, says Fahmy.