After Ghadafi's Declaration: The Impact of Changes in Libyan and Iranian WMD Programs on Israel and the Region

The Libyan declaration that it was ending its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, dismantling existing capabilities and facilities, and opening up its territory for inspection marks an important step in reducing threats and instability in the region. As in the case of the recent Iranian declaration that it has accepted the conditions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the main test lies in the implementation of the Libyan pledge of transparency, both immediately and in the long term. However, the discovery of advanced uranium enrichment and other nuclear weapons-related activities in Libya have refocused attention on the weaknesses of the inspection and verification capabilities of the IAEA and other international agencies. In the absence of threats from the Bush administration, Libya and Iran would have continued to develop nuclear weapons. Therefore, the structure of the international non-proliferation regime and its verification procedures need to be examined and improved in order to establish credibility. To the degree that the Libyan and Iranian pledges are matched by credible action, Israel's security environment will improve. However, until these capabilities are dismantled, and as long as Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia continue to maintain or seek weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, the threat to Israel will continue. Calls on Israel to follow suit ignore the fact that, unlike Libya and Iran, Israel is not an NPT signatory and has not violated any of its international obligations. As long as Iranian and other leaders continue to seek Israel's elimination, Israel remains the only country in the Middle East whose physical existence is still threatened by states seeking weapons of mass destruction.

2003-12-22 00:00:00

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