The quest to establish a Zone free of nuclear weapons and, subsequently, all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East has spanned nearly 50 years. While notable progress has been made, a treaty for such a Zone still remains a distant objective.

This study chronicles the narratives of key stakeholders - the Arab states, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America - who have been closely involved in Zone-related processes since 1974. By distilling insights from these narratives, the study uncovers major drivers and themes that underlie the behaviour of these stakeholders toward the Zone. Additionally, it provides a comprehensive historical account of important Zone-related processes and events from all of these perspectives. 

The study draws upon information gathered through more than 80 interviews conducted with current and former officials as well as experts from over 20 states and regional and international organizations that have played significant roles in Zone-related processes. It also incorporates primary sources from UNIDIR's Documents Depository.

The insights presented in this study offer a deeper understanding of the experiences and perspectives of contemporary witnesses involved in the ME WMDFZ issue throughout its history. The narratives shed light on how various stakeholders have perceived and interpreted historical events, revealing their diverse motivations, objectives, and perspectives assigned to other stakeholders, emphasizing the complexity and multifaceted nature of the Zone.

By identifying differing accounts and uncovering points of convergence, divergence, and misunderstanding about historical events, these narratives identify areas that require further dialogue and cooperation to bridge gaps and foster mutual understanding. 


Individual chapters:

Access the complete Narratives publication via the Download button (top right).

Access the introduction chapter here.

Access the Arab states’ Narratives chapter here.

Access the Iranian Narrative chapter here.

Access the Israeli Narrative chapter here.

Access the American Narrative chapter here.

Access the Russian Narrative chapter here.

Citation: Farzan Sabet, “Narratives of the Middle East WMD-Free Zone: Drivers, Themes, and Historical Accounts”, 2023, Geneva, Switzerland: UNIDIR,