Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta issued a new edict on Sunday asserting that Islamic nations must possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to be in accordance with the Quranic verse instructing Muslims to “gather all the force that they can” to deter their enemies.
The edict argues that deterrence is not only a military strategy but is a divine order from God to protect Muslims, justifying the accumulation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to this end.
However, Dar al-Ifta did not provide the same broad allowance for non-state entities, declaring that any individual or group in possession of WMDs had committed a sin, being in violation of treatises signed by the Egyptian state as much as jeopardizing the lives of Muslim around the world.
The position advocated by the Egyptian religious institution would be a violation of many disarmament treaties that Egypt and other regional governments have signed, and would also contradict the Egyptian state’s decades-old policy to promote a WMD-free Middle East.
Egypt ratified the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1981 whose central premise holds that NPT non-nuclear states pledge to never acquire nuclear weapons. In return, nuclear weapons states agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry reiterated this stance at the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the NPT held at the United Nations in New York. At the international gathering, Shoukry stated that Egypt has made nuclear disarmament in the Middle East a central tenet of its foreign policy for the past 40 years.