SIPRI Policy Brief on missile proliferation in the MENA

Addressing Missile Threats in the Middle East and North Africa

Authors: Dr. Tytti Erästö & Pieter D. Wezeman
November, 2020

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)


This SIPRI Policy Brief contributes to the discussion on missile proliferation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by providing an overview of regional missile arsenals and by considering ways to address related risks. The paper makes policy recommendations, highlighting the need to move beyond the selective focus on certain types of missiles in the hands of certain states, towards a more comprehensive approach based on greater transparency, responsible arms exports and confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs).

The proliferation of missiles in MENA is linked with intractable security dilemmas and conflicts, arms exports and the use of force by extra-regional states. Supply-side controls and other restrictions on missiles are necessary but likely insufficient if applied without consideration of the broader regional security dynamics. Particularly when limited to certain states alongside continued arms exports to others, measures against missile proliferation might end up contributing to the demand side of the problem by exacerbating overall military asymmetries. Hence the need for CSBMs and comprehensive risk assessment of arms export policies, which could help strengthen efforts to restrain both the further proliferation and use of missiles in MENA.