Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Middle East is Politically and Practically Unrealistic
Ideally, the entire Middle East would be a zone free of enrichment and reprocessing. The WMD Commission headed by former UN weapons inspector and IAEA Director-General Hans Blix recommended that all states in the region commit themselves for a prolonged period of time not to have any enrichment or reprocessing activities. This would mean that Iran's uranium enrichment at Natanz and Israel's production of plutonium at Dimona would halt. If estimates are correct that Israel has produced enough fissile material for some 200 weapons, it might be argued that this is sufficient to meet its deterrence needs. Unfortunately, prospects for a regional agreement at the moment are not bright given the compliance problems with existing nonproliferation norms, the challenges of verification, and the need for an accompanying peace process if any country is to unilaterally reduce its security posture. These must all be addressed, including by more meaningful enforcement of the existing nonproliferation rules and obligations. In the meantime, a Middle East enrichment- and reprocessing-free zone is still a useful goal to which to aspire.