Nuclear-weapons-free zones (NWFZs) account for a majority of the earth’s surface and 39% of global population; they represent incredible political, cultural, and economic diversity. With tensions mounting and diplomatic solutions sought over potential nuclear programs in the Middle East, many experts have suggested the establishment of a NWFZ in the region. Existing NWFZs provide unique insight into the critical socioeconomic qualities that allow for verified security against nuclear weapons development. This paper seeks to evaluate the common factors which encourage states to initiate and invest in NWFZs. Despite considerable cultural and historical diversity, the current five NWFZs provide a compelling argument for the value of regional nonproliferation efforts, an escalation model of cooperation, and the subversion of the traditional nuclear binary that defines states as nuclear or non-nuclear powers. Using quantitative comparisons of economic integration – both within the region and with influential nuclear powers – and qualitative descriptions of the cultural and social attitudes motivating these diplomatic efforts, further light can be shed on the appropriateness of a NWFZ in the Middle East. The relative efficacy, too, of other political and economic methods of deterring nuclear weapons programs contribute to a fuller comprehension of meaningful policy options. With these tools, policy makers can explore better approaches for encouraging the development of a NWFZ in the Middle East.
Jennifer Knox, ’14
Majors: International Relations, Classical Studies
Sponsor: David Yamanishi