Assessing Prospects for Establishing WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East

Russia supports the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery in the Middle East. Unfortunately, this particular zone in this particular region have not materialized, but we keep on trying

Sergey Lavrov
Russian Foreign Minister

The Middle East remains one of the most sensitive regions of the world to the risks of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In view of the acute contradictions between the states of the Middle East and the unresolved nature of key conflicts, preventing the emergence of new nuclear states here is a priority task. The only possible long-term solution is the creation of a WMD-free zone in the region, with the concurrent construction of a comprehensive security architecture.

The creation of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East will help prevent an arms race and related regional conflicts, build confidence among the countries of the region, and create a basis for dialogue among the conflicting parties. As part of this project, PIR Center works with all participants in the negotiation process, including its co-sponsors, Russia, the US and the UK, and key regional players, among them Israel, Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt. PIR Center has established working contacts with the leading research centers of these countries and decision-makers in the ongoing discussions on the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the region.

PIR Center sees its task as facilitating the search at the expert level for a solution acceptable to the states of the region to create a WMD-free zone. This work has been underway since 2010, when the NPT Review Conference decided to convene an international conference by 2012. On the eve of its expected date PIR Center held an academic conference with the participation of representatives of the embassies of Arab states accredited to Moscow, Israel, and the three co-sponsors of the «Middle East resolution»  of 1995. The conference proceedings are available here.

The 2013 conference resulted in a PIR Center White Paper outlining possible steps toward a WMSA in the Middle East.

In 2020, after the UN General Assembly convened a conference on the creation of a WMDFZ in the Middle East, International Affairs magazine published an op-ed «WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East: How Moscow Sees the Way to Establish It» (In Russ.) by PIR Center Founding Director Dr. Vladimir Orlov and MGIMO University alumna Natalia Artemenkova.

In June 2021, under the auspices of the educational online platform NONPROLIFERATION.WORLD, PIR Center held an informal expert seminar on the Syrian chemical dossier, during which Washington Post special correspondent and PIR Center old friend Joby Warrick presented his book Red Line to a Russian audience. The recording of the event is available here.