This IISS Strategic Dossier 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.

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’.

From £30.00
Product variations
Online Access, Digital Download & Print £80.00 + shipping
Online Access & Digital Download £70.00
Print edition £30.00 + shipping
  • Introduction

    In the span of the eleven months between February 2006 and January 2007, at least 13 countries in the Middle East announced new or revived plans to pursue or explore civilian nuclear energy. This upsurge of interest is remarkable, given both the abundance of traditional energy sources in the region and the low standing to date of nuclear energy there. From Morocco to Iran and from Turkey to Yemen, there is not a single nuclear power plant in...
  • Chapter One: Egypt: the usual suspect

    Claiming its stake in a global nuclear renaissance, Egypt’s announcement in September 2006 that it would revive long-dormant plans for nuclear power was meant both as a partial answer to its growing demand for energy and as an expression of national pride. There is also an unmistakeable security hedge in Cairo’s calculations that could rekindle international concerns about its intentions. Ultimately Egypt did not seek nuclear weapons in response to Israel’s programme, and it certainly is not a foregone conclusion...
  • Chapter Two: The Arabian Peninsula

    AThe GCC: an attention-grabbing announcement The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The council formed a common market on 1 January 2008. Founded in 1981 in response to the Iranian revolution, much of the GCC’s policy agenda since then has been shaped by Iran’s activities. None of the council’s member states possesses a significant nuclear infrastructure. All...
  • Chapter Three: Turkey: power-balance concerns

    In many respects, Turkey should be among the regional countries least affected by Iran’s nuclear activities. A long-standing member of NATO, Turkey is formally protected by the collective security guarantee laid out in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. The country’s ties to the West are further strengthened – at least in theory – by its ongoing accession talks with the European Union (EU). Should these talks be successful, Turkey would receive an immense boost to its standing...
  • Chapter Four: Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq

    If a nuclear renaissance emerges in the Middle East, it is unlikely to start in the region to the east of the Mediterranean, where the kind of financial, political and environmental issues that impede aspirations for nuclear power elsewhere are magnified. Instability makes nuclear power unimaginable for now in both Lebanon and Iraq. The latter is still subject to a United Nations Security Council prohibition on any nuclear-energy activity other than the use of isotopes for medical, industrial and...
  • Chapter Five: The Maghreb

    AThe Maghreb (Arabic for ‘land where the sun sets’) forms the western wing of the greater Middle East region and marks the limit of the westward expansion of the Islamic and Arabic cultures. The greater Maghreb area includes Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, which, together with Mauritania, form the Arab Maghreb Union, a political cooperation organisation. Despite a significant terrorist threat and Libya’s until-recent pursuit of nuclear weapons, the Maghreb is a relatively tranquil area as far as major geopolitical...
  • Chapter Six: Israel: nuclear monopoly in danger

    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...
  • Chapter Seven: Assessing the proliferation risks of civilian nuclear programmes

    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...
  • Chapter Eight: Policy options for preventing a proliferation cascade

    The danger of a proliferation cascade in the Middle East, while real, is not imminent. Although some countries may be positioning themselves to be able eventually to produce fissile material, no country is known or seriously believed to be pursuing a nuclear-weapons programme as a result of Iran’s activities. Syria’s nuclear motivations are unclear but were not likely to have been driven by concerns about Iran. Israel’s programme long predates the Iranian nuclear threat. Apart from Israel, Iraq before 1991...
Back to content list

Strategic Dossiers

Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the shadow of Iran

A history of nuclear programmes in the region, including Israel and Turkey, an evaluation of national nuclear capabilities and policies, and an analysis of future aspirations.

Strategic Dossier Press

Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East

A press release for the launch of this Strategic Dossier is available here.

A press statement for the launch of this Strategic Dossier is available here.

Strategic Dossiers

Harnessing the Institute's technical expertise to present detailed information on the key strategic issues.