The Non-Proliferation Treaty in the Middle East and Africa

  • Mahmoud Mahfouz
Conference paper


The global importance of the NPT and its limitations have been extensively debated ever since its original conception and will probably continue to be debated as long as nuclear strategic confrontation persists in any form. In a changing world, the original relevance of the NPT is going to be the determining factor in establishing peace, particularly in regions where political crises and tensions exist. However, there are several reasons for a shift of importance from global to regional parameters:
  1. 1.

    The cooling down of the strategic confrontation between the superpowers offers new opportunities for resolving, or containing, hot confrontations, but it also decreases the willingness of either superpower to become directly involved, or to continue to give open-ended coverage to one side, in a regional crisis.

  2. 2.

    The increasing sophistication of the arms race in many regional conflict areas, particularly the Middle East, Southern Africa, and South-East Asia is alarming, not only because of the disparities, and unfairness of the major suppliers who are fuelling the race, but also because of their growing support for the buildup of dangerous capabilities. Furthermore, the arrival on the arms market of several alternative suppliers is a new disturbing feature of the arms race.

  3. 3.

    In the context of the changing strategic and technological races, differentiation between the various weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, biological, conventional) is bound to become blurred. The uneven evolution of military capability among conflicting sides, with apparent immunity, or even collusion, will ultimately provoke the acquisition of an achievable retaliatory deterrence by the side that feels threatened.

    The spiral of the strategic arms race enhanced by technology has been transferred to the South, and seems to gather the same catastrophic momentum. Regional conflicts are bound to lead to more fear, suspicion and bitterness.

  4. 4.

    There is also moral degradation and brutalizing, which repeatedly demonstrates the increased unreliability of political as well as military behaviour. In this context, the use of weapons of mass destruction does not appear as impossible as it does to the outside world. This is the perception both of countries who have acquired the weapons, and of those who are threatened.



Middle East Mass Destruction Chemical Weapon Military Capability Nuclear Proliferation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

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  • Mahmoud Mahfouz

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