This thesis analyzes the establishment of a zone, free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMDFZ), in the Middle East. It argues that the proposed Middle East zone constitutes a normative regulatory strategy for promoting nonproliferation and disarmament in the region in support of broader, international nonproliferation and disarmament efforts. It addresses the subject of the zone through the lens of Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink’s norm life cycle model, which asserts that norms first emerge (norm emergence), then spread throughout a given population (norm cascade), and then become internalized as standard practice by members of the population (norm internalization). In doing so, one finds the subject of a WMDFZ in the Middle East in the first phase, norm emergence, of its life cycle. Despite unanimous and declaratory support for the zone as a normative nonproliferation and disarmament strategy by all states in the region, the zone has yet to reach a stage of internalization and, thus, practical implementation. The thesis utilizes research and interviews with experts in New York, Washington, DC, Geneva, Vienna and Cairo to examine the subject of the zone. It presents the topic in context with the international nonproliferation regime, and then traces the evolution of the concept of a Middle East WMDFZ from its conceptual origin in 1962 to the present. It examines the varying perspectives of Middle East states on the zone and identifies obstacles to the zone’s implementation. Finally, it suggests possible methods for overcoming obstacles for those desiring progress on the subject of a Middle East WMDFZ. In doing so, the thesis provides an in-depth analysis of the prospects and challenges for a Middle East WMDFZ as a normative nonproliferation and disarmament strategy for the region.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Name

MA in Middle Eastern Studies

First Advisor

Pinfari, Marco

Committee Member 1

Aboul-Enein, Sameh

Committee Member 2

Negm, Namira

Document Type



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