At least thirteen countries throughout the greater Middle East have recently announced new or revived plans to explore civilian nuclear energy. They spoke of the need for energy diversification to meet growing electricity demand and the economic and environmental benefits of nuclear power. This surge of interest is consistent with a worldwide trend likened to a ‘nuclear renaissance’. Yet political factors also motivate the renewed interest in nuclear energy in the Middle East, including competition with Iran and concern about its determined pursuit of technologies that appear designed to provide it with a nuclear weapons capability.
The IISS Strategic Dossier on nuclear programmes in the Middle East provides a comprehensive overview of the history of nuclear programmes in the region, an evaluation of national nuclear capabilities and policies, and an analysis of future aspirations. The fact-rich country profiles, which include Israel and Turkey, also assess how each state may react to an Iranian nuclear weapons capability. In addition to analyzing the proliferation risks inherent in the nuclear fuel cycle, the dossier assesses policy options, including possible regional arms control measures, that can help allow atomic energy to be harnessed for peaceful uses without engendering a ‘proliferation cascade’.