Syria: a would-be proliferator; Jordan: non-proliferation credentials; Lebanon: no nuclear-energy intentions; Iraq: very little pre-1991 nuclear infrastructure remains

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 agricultural purposes. Syria could make an economic case for nuclear energy, but concerns about its intentions – especially after the exposure of the secret reactor destroyed by an Israeli air-strike in September 2007 – would make foreign support for such an initiative highly unlikely. Jordan is the only country in this group of four that can realistically pursue nuclear power today, and it is the only one in which the shadow of Iran spurs talk of a nuclear security hedge, albeit mostly for the purposes of diplomatic leverage. But Jordan’s ambitious plans still face daunting hurdles.

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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.