The Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy
Mark Dubowitz, Orde Kittrie, David Albright (ISIS), Leonard Spector (Monterey), and Michael Yaffe (NDU)
16 January 2013

Summary: It is imperative for the United States to develop and implement a comprehensive nonproliferation strategy for the Middle East (defined by this report to include North Africa). Factors lending urgency to this need include the threat of proliferation in and by Iran, the vulnerable Syrian chemical arsenal, the challenges and opportunities posed by the Arab revolutions, the relatively frequent prior use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East, several regional states already possessing WMD, and a tense and unstable regional security situation.

The U.S. government has in recent years invested considerable resources on intelligence community, diplomatic, military, and other nonproliferation efforts to detect, interdict, deter, and defend against proliferation in the Middle East. Relevant treaties; high-level diplomatic initiatives; U.N. Security Council, coalition, and unilateral sanctions; strategic trade controls; and military measures (both defensive and, potentially, offensive), are all in play. Intelligence capabilities of the United States and its allies are an instrument of crucial, crosscutting importance, providing both essential knowledge regarding activities of concern and tools for disrupting them. This report reviews these nonproliferation efforts in light of the paradigm shifts sweeping the region and recommends a comprehensive set of improvements, adjustments, and innovations designed to maximize U.S. (and allied) effectiveness in achieving these nonproliferation goals in the evolving Middle East. 

These U.S. nonproliferation efforts in the Middle East have been complemented by a set of poorly funded (and sometimes uncoordinated) collaborative and cooperative programs to promote nonproliferation norms and practices among Middle Eastern governments, civil society, and other local partners. Obstacles to spending Department of Defense funds on such cooperative threat reduction and related efforts in the Middle East were recently removed, permitting significantly expanded U.S. activities in this sphere. The report therefore also includes a comprehensive set of recommendations for how the United States can and should more effectively assist Middle Eastern governments and other local partners to develop their own nonproliferation capacities, cultivate a culture of nonproliferation responsibility, and enhance regional cooperation on nonproliferation issues.

U.S. Nonproliferation Strategy for the Changing Middle East