The Persian Gulf: arms and arms control

Author/s (editor/s):

K.R. Singh

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 21

The monograph discusses the inflow of arms in the Persian Gulf region in the light of threat perceptions and politico-military responses of various countries in the region. It deals with real and perceived threats to regime and systemic security, to territorial integrity and national sovereignty, and to international security. The study of responses includes an analysis of the arms acquisition policy of these countries as well as the constraints faces by them in achieving their objectives. 

The large-scale induction of arms into the region, particularly in the seventies, gave rise to fears that these arms might post a threat to peace and security in the Gulf area. Hence efforts were initiated to bring about some arms control in the region. In that context, the monograph analyses the role played by agencies like the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, as well as other pressure groups within the United States Congress and outside it. An attempt has been made to evaluate the degree of success achieved by these arms control groups.

In conclusion, the monograph suggests that a favourable climate for arms control in the region can be created only if viable alternatives can be suggested to ensure the local regimes that their security can be adequately guaranteed by means other than large-scale arms purchase programs. The Iranian revolution disproved the hypothesis that security could be ensured through massive militarisation alone. In that context, the monograph advocates the need to approach the question of security though regional co-operation, and suggests the creation of a Gulf Secretariat and a Gulf Peace Force not only as instruments of regional co-operation and security but also as an alternative to growing dependence on expensive arms acquisition programmes by the regional powers.

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