The raging violence between Israelis and Palestinians has raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East. For background on the possible use of weapons of mass destruction in future conflicts, we provide summaries on the nuclear weapon capabilities of Israel, Iraq and Iran from a forthcoming Carnegie study, Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction (June 2002). Later analyses will assess regional chemical and biological weapons capabilities and missile arsenals.
After the September 11 attacks, the global threat of radical Islamist terrorism gave the United States an opportunity to rally much of the world behind it. But by mixing up the struggle against terrorism with a very different effort at preventing nuclear proliferation, and by refusing to take the interests of other states into account, the US risks endangering itself and its closest allies.
A continuation of the current White House policy risks a resumption of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula, but this time with a North Korea that may have the capability to carry war to U.S. territory.
The number one problem in Iraq is not Saddam Hussein but his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Without them he is dangerous and despicable but not a threat remotely worthy of American intervention. This truth has a huge bearing on policy that has been largely ignored.
President George W. Bush's State of the Union remarks labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an axis of evil quickly circled the globe and re-ignited fears of a more aggressive brand of U.S. unilateralism.
The United States will soon become the first nation since World War II to withdraw from a major international security agreement. President Bush's abrogation of the ABM treaty will undermine President Putin in Russia, alienate U.S. allies, antagonize China, polarize domestic debate and weaken national security. Ironically, it will also expose the fragility of missile defense plans. It has been technology, not treaties, limiting effective defenses.
There is significant evidence that both proliferating states and terrorist groups are actively seeking to acquire stolen fissile material for nuclear weapons. Iran, Iraq, Libya, and North Korea, among others, have all been reported to be seeking to acquire such material, as have the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult in Japan, and Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization, Al Qaida.
A Carnegie Proliferation Roundtable