In Cooporation with KAS – Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

On CBRN Challenges/Terrorism & Disarmament/Non-Proliferation in the Middle East/Gulf

Extended Policy Forum 2021/22

Bioterrorist Activities in the Middle East/Gulf, the European Union and the United States
A Critical Review of the U.S.-dominated Literature Ranging from Super/Mega- to Low-tech/Amateurish Terrorism

Bernd W. Kubbig

Why have biological weapons (BW) not been widely used by terrorists? This longitudinal study takes a new look at this old question. It looks again at the almost forgotten initial comprehensive work on “Superviolence” 1972. It questions the main thesis of the Harvard/Belfer Center volume “America’s Achilles’ Heel” (1998) written in the shadow of the ‘bio-chem clouds’ of the lethal Tokyo incidents of 1995, which opened a new area in terrorism and research on this subject. Finally, it scrutinizes the writings of prominent and productive terrorist researchers Jeffrey D. Simon and Gary A. Ackerman especially closely. Here, the Extended Policy Forum 2021/22 focuses on those authors’ dubious “concept” of the “super-empowered individual.”
This so-called “concept" is conflated with the BW threat, especially that posed by jihadist terrorists (groups and Lone Wolves) in view of the paucity of serious BW incidents in order to drive the discourse on bioterrorism forward. With this objective in mind, Ackerman, despite his impressive merits, has used methods of hyping which violate basic academic rules and standards. See the in-depth summary at the end of this Extended Policy Forum which includes the proponents of an anti-superterrorism approach with a focus on conventional weapons used by jihadist terrorists and empirically supported by EUROPOL’s annual reports. Have we already entered a new phase of jihadist terrorism characterized by a modified pre-1995 Brian Jenkin’s principle, namely that those terrorists want to see a lot of people suffer by killing a few exclusively with conventional means? – Any comments on this controversial topic in its digital version are very welcome.

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Policy Forum No. 9-10 / August 2020

Assessing Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Ambitions
The Pros and Cons amid Turbulent and Somewhat Promising Developments

Christian Koch

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is currently pursuing a nuclear hedging policy. Its path is contingent mainly on three factors: the future of regional security arrangements with a special focus on Iran; the development of U.S.-Saudi relations, because, in the foreseeable future, the United States will remain the main security guarantor for the kingdom; and prestige, which has to be seen in the context of intra-Arab competition and rifts in the Arab world. However, financial challenges associated with any costly and technologically challenging nuclear program have to be taken into account. Favorable developments at the regional and international level could mitigate Riyadh’s nuclear ambitions. All in all, Saudi Arabia is currently positioning itself so that it would not be left empty-handed in the event that Iran goes nuclear. While there are indicators suggesting that Saudi Arabia is open to pursuing a military nuclear option, such an eventuality is at this stage certainly not a foregone conclusion. In this broad context, the focus of the Policy Forum series on challenges emanating from the entire range of chemical, biological, radiological and, last but not least, nuclear weapons (CBRN) as they relate to non-state actors/terrorist organizations will be presented in this Policy Forum issue. This includes both Saudi Arabia’s domestic counterproliferation efforts in the nuclear area as well as Riyadh’s attitude to dealing with terrorist organizations, especially as part of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry.

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Policy Forum No. 7-8 / January 2020

Enhancing Regional Security through Scientific Cooperation in the Middle East
Attracting SESAME Users’ Community to the Technical Dimensions of CBRN Activities, Disarmament, and Non-Proliferation

Marc Finaud and Bernd W. Kubbig in Cooperation with Walid Abu-Dalbouh

SESAME, which stands for Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, is a large-scale techno-scientific project that was established under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is set up according to the model of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. This multilateral endeavour, located in Jordan, brings together experts and researchers from the Mediterranean/Middle East, including from countries that do not have diplomatic relations (e.g. Israel and Iran, Cyprus and Turkey). It is conceived primarily as a project combining research capacity-building with vital peacebuilding efforts. In principle, these efforts may include the manifold technical and cooperative dimensions of anti-terrorist activities related to weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear, or CBRN), and also to disarmament and non-proliferation. The country where SESAME is located – Jordan – has been heavily involved in the fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS).

This Policy Forum issue deals with the genesis of SESAME, and then describes its functioning, achievements, and potential benefits; the challenges it faces, especially funding; and its peacebuilding element. The SESAME project can be improved in concrete ways by meeting two criteria: firstly, by living up to its claim of being a contribution to rapprochement between the peoples of this conflict-torn region, whose security is affected by national rivalries or violent non-state actors; and, secondly, by providing inputs for the users’ community without adversely affecting that community’s predominant focus on research. This Policy Forum aims at acquainting especially young scientists with the technical and cooperative dimensions of SESAME’s CBRN-related counter-terrorist activities, as well as its disarmament and non-proliferation measures. Such scientists can make use particularly of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) programmes and, as an option, of the nearby Amman-based academic and educational infrastructure.

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Policy Forum No. 6 / June 2019

The European Union’s Centres of Excellence Initiative on CBRN Risk Mitigation
Innovative Approaches for the Disruptive Security Environment

Nasser Bin Nasser

This Policy Forum sets forth some of the most disruptive changes witnessed over the past decade, and assesses their impact on the security environment. It goes on to emphasize the need for security governance approaches and frameworks that are flexible and adaptive to changing security landscapes. In doing so, the Policy Forum exemplifies the European Union's pursuit of such a framework to effectively address these changes, in the form of the European Union Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence Initiative (EU CBRN CoE).

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Policy Forum No. 5 / March 2019

Jordan’s Chairmanship of the Nuclear Security Contact Group
Sustaining Progress on Nuclear Security in the Context of CBRN Challenges PART II

Jasmine Auda

This Policy Forum issue, a continuation of Policy Forum No. 4, will first analyze opportunities and obstacles related to cooperation in the area of nuclear security, which includes CBRN challenges. It makes the following point: Cooperation can potentially act as a unifier for states in the Middle East/Gulf, but this should not be overstated. Nuclear security can hardly be tailored to the needs of the splintered region, but rather to individual countries, who may then be incentivized to cooperate at an operational level. An incremental approach toward flexible forms of cooperation (‘minilateralism’) is currently the most likely strategy to make any progress in the region, and Jordan’s leadership can certainly be helpful in this respect. Finally, this Policy Forum recommends concrete steps for the Nuclear Security Contact Group.

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Policy Forum No. 4 / March 2019

Jordan’s Chairmanship of the Nuclear Security Contact Group
Sustaining Progress on Nuclear Security in the Context of CBRN Challenges PART I

Jasmine Auda

The Nuclear Security Contact Group (Contact Group or NSCG) is one of a number of tangible outcomes of the Nuclear Security Summits established for the purpose of sustaining the momentum garnered throughout the four high-level summits from 2010 to 2016. Jordan’s year-long chairmanship of the Contact Group from 2017 to 2018 is a testament to the role that individual countries can play in strengthening their national nuclear security frameworks and promoting cooperation in related areas. This includes threats emanating from non-conventional or chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons/materials. Analyzing Jordan’s role of the Contact Group is at the center of Part I of this Policy Forum.

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Policy Forum No. 3 / January 2019

The Islamic State's Acquisition and Use of Chemical Weapons
Assessing the Past and Potential Threats PART II

Simeon Dukić

This Policy Forum issue, a continuation of Policy Forum No. 2, will examine the CW attacks that the Islamic State allegedly carried out in Syria and Iraq. It will argue that there is sufficient evidence that this group has developed a rudimentary chemical weapons capability and has used sulfur mustard in Syria. This article will also contextualize the threat posed by the Islamic State's CW capability by comparing it to the threat posed by other state and non-state actors' deployment of this category of weapons. The Policy Forum issue will then evaluate the future threat posed by the Islamic State's use of CW in and outside the Middle East. Finally, this article briefly offers policy solutions to minimize the threat posed by this terrorist group.

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Policy Forum No. 2 / January 2019

The Islamic State's Acquisition and Use of Chemical Weapons
Assessing the Past and Potential Threats PART I

Simeon Dukić

Part I of this Policy Forum issue (Part II is published as Policy Forum No. 3) will assess the threat posed by the possibility that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (IS) could obtain and use chemical weapons (CW). It will first review the salafi-jihadi doctrine of the group and argue that no ideological obstacles prevent it from obtaining and using unconventional weapons. It then reviews IS's current status. Despite the group's loss of territory and the collapse of its quasi-state structure, it will pose a significant threat to the security of the Middle East/Gulf. Finally, this Policy Forum issue will analyze the capabilities and intentions of the hybrid actor to seek, develop and use chemical weapons on the territory of Syria and Iraq.

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Policy Forum No. 1 / September 2018

Countering CBRN Challenges amid Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Concerns in the Middle East/Gulf
An Overview of This POLICY FORUM Series

Bernd W. Kubbig

This new series will focus on countries in the Middle East/Gulf facing multiple challenges emanating from the entire range of chemical, biological, radiological, and last but not least nuclear weapons (CBRN). Endeavors to tackle CBRN security may serve as a unifying factor among the usually splintered actors in the region. With an emphasis on dialogue mechanisms and the role of experts in their various functions, the authors contributing to the series will present feasible, policy-relevant recommendations for improving security in the entire region. A spillover from the CBRN-related communication mechanism to the closely related but stalemated dialogue process on disarmament and non-proliferation would be welcome as an additional result.

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In Cooporation with GCSP – Geneva Centre for Security Policy

For Disarmament and Non-Proliferation in the Middle East/Gulf

Policy Forum No. 15

Eleventh Cooperative Idea

A Comprehensive Israeli Concept for a WMD/DVs-Free Zone in the Middle East/Gulf:
Presented at the Side-Event Organised by APOME, DSF, FES, and GCSP, NPT PrepCom Geneva, 26 April 2018

Shemuel Meir

Attempts to achieve a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD-Free Zone) in the Middle East have become even more complicated than in the past. This Policy Forum issue provides a fresh look at the topic in order to offer common ground for positive discussions on Middle East disarmament. Its main novelty is to look at the security threat as perceived by Israel in the context of an Israeli-Egyptian-Iranian triangle that complements the old paradigm of an Israeli-Egyptian dyad. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or agreement/accord) with Iran is a challenge for some regional actors but at the same time could form a basis for bridging the disarmament gap, especially with its unprecedented robust verification regime. From a purely strategic angle, the JCPOA is beneficial to Israel’s national security interests. It is therefore to be hoped that this multilateral agreement will withstand the Donald Trump administration’s attempts to dismantle it.

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Policy Forum No. 14

Tenth Cooperative Idea

A New Egyptian Track II Approach to the WMD/DVs-Free Zone in the Middle East/Gulf:
Presented at the Side-Event Organised by APOME, DSF, FES, and GCSP, NPT PrepCom in Geneva, 26 April 2018

Mona Ahmed Saleh

This Policy Forum issue revisits the stalemate in the negotiations of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems (WMD/ DVs-Free Zone) in the Middle East/Gulf, which has been negatively impacted by several regional developments. It starts by highlighting the basic gap in the different conceptions of such a zone by the Egyptian-led Arab states, in addition to Iran, on the one hand, and Israel, on the other. Arguing from a comprehensive security perspective in the region, this Policy Forum issue presents a new Track II Cooperative Idea by viewing the establishment of the WMD/DVs-Free Zone as an incremental, multi-stage, long-term process that should take place on different tracks and should combine the traditionally incompatible calls for “Disarmament First!” and “Peace/Recognition First!” of the respective negotiating parties. While emphasizing how important it is to keep (in-)formal talks going – and to be patient – a Preparatory Commission for a WMD/DVs Treaty is proposed whose mandate would include special assignments for Track II actors.

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Policy Forum No. 13

Second Flanking Cooperative Idea

Transferring the Win-Win Approach of the JCPOA to Other Areas of Cooperation in the Middle East/Gulf:
Non-governmental Players as Actors of Change

Bijan Khajehpour

Based on his rich experience since 1994 as a strategy consultant for major international companies investing in Iran, the author makes the case for using the achievement-oriented approach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a model for tackling all major regional challenges in a cooperative way, especially by non-governmental actors.

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Policy Forum No. 12

Ninth Cooperative Idea

Towards a Missile-Free Zone for the Middle East – Moving beyond the Nuclear Dimension of the JCPOA
A Checklist for European Actors to Deal Constructively with the Regional Missile Problem

Bernd W. Kubbig and Marc Finaud

The highly controversial missile problem in the Middle East should – and can – be constructively tackled by not singling out Iran and by avoiding onesided maximalist and unrealistic demands towards Tehran. The authors aim at providing incentives for Iran to start discussion on its missile arsenal in three ways: they propose (a) applying vital elements that led to the successful conclusion of the JCPOA; (b) regionalising future talks in a triangle that includes from the beginning the missiles of Saudi Arabia and Israel; and (c) starting with modest confidence-building steps among the three major powers. Among the extra-regional players the United States continues to have a special responsibility for engaging in such a cooperative approach.

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Policy Forum No. 11

Eighth Cooperative Idea

Exploring the Transfer Potential of the JCPOA for Zonal Disarmament Arrangements in the Middle East/Gulf

Daniel Müller

This Policy Forum issue advocates using elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or agreement/accord) in prospective negotiations to create a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs) in the Middle East. In a stalemated situation resembling efforts to negotiate a zonal arrangement, the JCPOA after more than 12 years of negotiations succeeded in striking a multilateral deal among adversaries with diverging capabilities and agendas who doubted each other’s intentions and were reluctant to make concessions. By establishing an incentive-based mechanism that encouraged and facilitated cooperation, the JCPOA succeeded in trading various issues to reach common ground in an incremental step-by-step approach of carefully sequenced quid pro quos. Framed as an agreement among equals and safeguarded by multiple compliance mechanisms, the JCPOA (or aspects of it) could serve as a toolbox for zonal negotiations on disarmament, help to link hardened actors, and break up entrenched interest structures and dogmatic policy positions.

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Policy Forum No. 10

Seventh Cooperative Idea

Assessing the JCPOA from a Historical Perspective:
Moving Beyond the Declaratory Policy of the 2004-2006 Initiative of a Gulf WMD-Free Zones

Christian Koch, Marc Finaud, and Bernd W. Kubbig

This Policy Forum issue analyses the 2004-2006 initiative to establish a sub-regional zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Gulf (GWMDFZ) as a tool to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapon state. The initiative’s gradual approach which aimed at the ultimate goal of encompassing the entire Middle East (including Israel) was innovative, and the assertive role of some smaller Gulf states in expressing their security concerns/interests and verification standards that Tehran would have had to meet was unprecedented. But the entire sub-regional idea remained confined to the declaratory level. In contrast, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or agreement/accord) – endangered as it currently is – struck between the E3/EU+3 and Iran exceeds some of the concerns of the earlier initiative, yet misses others. We conclude that new – and ultimately sustainable – regional forums as communication mechanisms are needed to tackle these issues without touching on the JCPOA. The challenges go beyond Iran and include the nuclear activities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and even more so of Saudi Arabia. Our Cooperative Idea emphasises that moving beyond the purely declaratory policy of the GWMDFZ initiative could also help to overcome the current stalemate regarding a zonal disarmament arrangement for the whole Middle East/Gulf region.

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Policy Forum No. 9

Sixth Cooperative Idea

Against All Odds - Decreasing the Saudi-Iranian Rivalry for Regional Hegemony through and in the Wake of the JCPOA:
Obstacles and Opportunities

Bernd W. Kubbig, Marc Finaud in Cooperation with Ali Fathollah-Nejad

The dangerous spiralling of the rivalry between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran for hegemony/supremacy in the Middle East/Gulf is the factor that has the most negative impact on the entire region. The authors make the case for using the specific features and successful negotiations of the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as a way to downgrade this bilateral rivalry. This agreement was the focal point of (pre-)negotiations especially between the United States and Iran that de-escalated the tensions between the two enemies and turned them – at least during the administration of President Barack Obama – into adversaries with an interest in selective cooperation. The agreement is living proof that formerly incompatible interests can be overcome. It is true, however, that, despite its complexity, the JCPOA can only have a limited influence on developments in the region. This is why the authors identify the roots of the intensifying Saudi-Iranian rivalry at the domestic, regional and international levels – with corresponding recommended steps to de-escalate this struggle. The prospects for such a positive scenario appear to be particularly promising if elites in both Riyadh and Tehran – especially since they are facing increasing domestic challenges to regime/government stability – opt to slow down or even reverse their countries’ current course. A more assertive population, especially among women and the youth, has become a new factor for serious change. This may incentivise these elites to pursue less costly foreign policy approaches – including finding appropriate forums for serious dialogue, with de-escalating the mutually demonising rhetoric as the first step.

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Policy Forum No. 8

First Flanking Cooperative Idea

Environmental Peacebuilding across Borders and Sectors
A Concerted Approach to Multilateral Cooperation in the Middle East

Inga Schierholz

Disputes over water constitute a major area of disagreement between Israel and Palestine. The uncoordinated and irresponsible environmental actions on both sides have created serious ecological and humanitarian hazards that require rapid, yet sustainable action. Those who argue that the water problem can be resolved only as part of a comprehensive peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians fail to recognise both the urgency and the potential of cross-border water cooperation.

The bottom line of this Flanking Cooperative Idea is that because water- and sanitation-related issues extend both horizontally across national borders and vertically across various sectors, environmental cooperation can be used to create positive linkages with and spill-overs into other policy fields with the potential to initiate new forms of collaboration in currently deadlocked areas, including the field of disarmament and non-proliferation.

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Policy Forum No. 7

Fifth Cooperative Idea

Building a WMD-Free Zone on the Two Existing Conventions

Jean Pascal Zanders

This Policy Forum issue analyses both progress made by and challenges facing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).

It does so in order to explore under what conditions and to what extent these two conventions might help build a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs). Finally, the issue presents some options for the future and a major long-term initiative towards this ambitious goal.

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Policy Forum No. 6

Fourth Cooperative Idea

A Building Block for a Middle East without WMD:
An All-inclusive Nuclear-Test-Free Zone

Marc Finaud

Since Egypt, Iran, and Israel have signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), they agree to the goal of prohibiting the testing of nuclear weapons. As a building block towards the establishment of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, they could jointly or concurrently ratify the CTBT, thus creating a de facto nuclear-test-free zone in the region that Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen could join. This could act as a confidence-building measure and facilitate the participation of these states in the activities of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), which verifies compliance with the test ban.

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Policy Forum No. 5

Third Cooperative Idea

Two Ready-to-Start Gradual Measures

Nilsu Gören

States in the Middle East/Gulf should consider practical, ready-to-start measures to address the technical and organisational aspects of regional security and bypass the political disagreements on a regional weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone (WMDFZ). Firstly, establishing a comprehensive expert group on the verification of arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament would increase confidence in the ability to sustain the provisions of a zonal arrangement.

Secondly, creating a regional security centre would provide an institutional mechanism that would facilitate the conversation from within the region and enhance cooperation.

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Policy Forum No. 4

Second Cooperative Idea

A UN Special Envoy to Manage the Middle East WMD- Free Zone Conference Process

Marc Finaud and Bernd W. Kubbig

In view of the failure of efforts to convene a conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles (DVs) in the Middle East (WMD/DVs-free zone), the Arab countries and the Russian Federation proposed that the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General appoint a special representative to lead the preparatory process for the conference.

A process facilitated by such a UN envoy would be compatible with consultations among regional states, including Israel, as advocated by the United States (US). Also, it would allow for broad discussions on both the regional security context and disarmament issues. Such a process would also be an opportunity for submitting contributions from nuclear-weapon states, relevant international organisations, and providers of ideas at the Track II level.

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Policy Forum No. 3

First Cooperative Idea

Bridging the Most Fundamental Gap:
By Simultaneously Pursuing Disarmament and Regional Security

Bernd W. Kubbig and Marc Finaud

This Policy Forum issue summarises the achievements and deficits of the Glion/Geneva informal consultation process and describes the currently held divergent positions of major players. With reference to several necessary conditions for success, the authors make concrete proposals for a compromise-oriented new NPT cycle that does not repeat the mistakes of the past.

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Policy Forum No. 2

Cooperative Ideas for New Communication & Conference Processes in the Middle East/Gulf
Getting Started with Two Expert Panels at the First NPT PrepCom in Vienna

Bernd W. Kubbig and Marc Finaud

In our new Track II initiative we will present, discuss, and disseminate Cooperative Ideas jointly developed at two International Expert Conferences in Frankfurt and Berlin (see issue No. 1 of this New Publication Series at academicpeaceorchestra.com).

The aim is to help establish promising focal points around which especially the relevant regional actors in the disarmament & non-proliferation area can rally. They may ultimately lead to constructive and sustainable dialogue mechanisms which are so rare – and so needed – in the Middle East/Gulf. The Two Expert Panels in Vienna are our starting point with a Third Panel envisaged for the Second NPT PrepCom in Geneva as a follow-up event. They are presented in this POLICY FORUM No. 2.

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Policy Forum No. 1

Policy Forum No. 1

Why We Need New Communication & Conference Processes and How They Could Come about.
The Classical Role of This Track II Initiative.

Bernd W. Kubbig and Marc Finaud

This New Publication Series Policy Forum is in addition to the Two Expert Panels conducted at the First NPT PrepCom in Vienna on May 8 and 10, 2017 our second Track II tool. Both aim at presenting, discussing, and disseminating the jointly developed Cooperative Ideas as potential rallying points for the most important actors in the entire Middle East/Gulf.

The main goal is to help achieving what is most needed: re-launching New Communication & Conference Processes in the disarmament & non-proliferation area; this is seen as the core element of, ultimately all-inclusive, security arrangements for the region consisting of two centers of gravity relevant for our new, comprehensive approach for the entire Middle East/Gulf.

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Arms Control and Missile Proliferation in the Middle East

Edited by Bernd W. Kubbig and Sven-Eric Fikenscher

This edited volume provides a systematic analysis of the missile threat and proliferation issue in the Middle East region. The question of how to increase the level of security in the Middle East is not a new one, given the conflict-ridden nature of the region. The solution attempted for this predicament has typically revolved around intense arms build-ups, a strategy which can prove self-defeating due to the subsequent countermeasures employed by neighboring states.

"Arms Control and Missile Proliferation in the Middle East" focuses on the strategic proliferation of arms, with a specific emphasis on missiles. This unique emphasis enables the contributors to provide a dynamic new perspective on conceptual and political disarmament efforts, thereby distinguishing this volume from many other related works on the region, which deal mainly with weapons of mass destruction. The book also explores the possibility of a reduction in weapon arsenals, examining a more promising cooperative security concept which includes confidence- and security-building measures.

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