Israel introduced a draft resolution on October 31, 1980 to the United Nations General Assembly proposing the establishment of a NWFZ in the Middle East. The resolutions calls for convening a conference of all Middle East and adjacent states with a view to negotiating a NWFZ. In later exchanges on the subject Israel made it clear that successful completion of the "Peace Process" was a precondition for accepting the NWFZ. Israel has also indicated that a regional approach to nuclear arms control is to be preferred over accession to the NPT. For an extensive discussion of the nuclear weapons status and prospects in the Middle East, see Shai Feldman, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press for the Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, 1997).


Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements, op. cit., p. 100.


HEU is of particular concern because it can be used in a simple gun-assembly-type nuclear device and hence would be attractive to a wider range of would-be proliferators. But HEU can be diluted with other naturally occurring isotopes of uranium to make low-enriched uranium (LEU), which cannot sustain the fast-neutron chain reaction needed for a nuclear explosion. LEU is the fuel used for most of the world's nuclear power reactors. The technology required to return LEU to weapons-grade uranium is costly, time consuming, and not readily available.


Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium, op. cit., p. 31.


Note that India, Israel, and Pakistan are not members of the NPT, which means they are exempt from the treaty's requirement for full-scope safeguards on their nuclear programs.


U.S. Department of Energy, Plutonium: The First 50 Years (Washington, D.C.: U.S. DOE, February 1996). Unlike the United States, Russia also has stocks of separated reactor-grade plutonium, which would need to be included in any such declarations.


"Strategic Forces Now in the Forefront of Russia's Defence—Commander," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, Part I, the Former USSR, December 19, 1996, No. SU/2799, pp. S1/1-S1/2.


NATO issued a statement on December 10, 1996 that it had "no intention, no plan, and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members" ("Final Communique Issued at the Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council," NATO Press Communique M-NAC-2 (96)165, December 10, 1996).


James A. Baker III with Thomas M. Defrank, The Politics of Diplomacy (New York: GP Putnam's Sons, 1995), p. 359. This ambiguity was conveyed to Saddam Hussein in a letter from President Bush just before the start of the Gulf War. The relevant passage reads: "The United States will not tolerate the use of chemical or biological weapons, support of any kind for terrorist actions, or the destruction of Kuwait's oilfields and installations. The American people would demand the strongest possible response." ("Confrontation in the Gulf: Text of Letter from Bush to Hussein," The New York Times, January 13, 1991). Despite the U.S. warning, Iraq did undertake destruction of the Kuwaiti oilfields.


Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium, op. cit., p. 34.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement