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JSPES, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Winter 2005 )
pp. 401-424

Nuclear Proliferation and the Middle East

Gawdat Bahgat

For the last several decades the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has been considered a major threat to international security. Both chemical and biological weapons are universally banned. Nuclear weapons, however, are regulated by a more complicated international regime. This essay begins with a general survey of the literature on nuclear proliferation. Specifically, in the first part the author addresses the question why countries seek to acquire nuclear weapons. To answer, the article examines five theoretical models: globalization and technological imperative; leadership/cognitive and psychological approaches; internal dynamics and domestic politics model; national pride and prestige; and security. The section that follows addresses the question of how countries are ‘persuaded’ or ‘pressured’ to give up their nuclear aspirations. Three models are discussed: change in the economic and political orientations; the international non-proliferation regime; and United States policy. Given recent development in Iraq, Iran, and Libya, references are made to nuclear proliferation and rollback in the Middle East.