Publication: Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the shadow of Iran
23 November 2012
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.