The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

A nuclear Arab world?

While the stand-off between the US and Iran gets the most attention, I think it is equally important to look at the regional dynamic that has been kicked off by Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

At a Bahrain sponsored GCC security conference that took place September 10 – 11, the Gulf countries discussed what to do about the Iranian nuclear program, by which they feel increasingly threatened, both militarily and environmentally. (Iran’s Busheer reactor is just some 200km away, across the Persian Gulf.)

During the conference, GCC’s general secretary Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Attiyah urged the Arab world to consider starting its own peaceful nuclear program.

Algeria (as well as Turkey) is already working on large-scale nuclear programs. Analysts say that others, notably Egypt and Saudi Arabia, could quickly follow suit, once Iran’s nuclear program is up and running, as they want to avoid Tehran being the uncontested regional super power next to Israel.

Here’s an excerpt from an article in which I gave an overview on regional dynamics and different Arab interests regarding Iran’s nuclear program:

The Gulf States do not want to end up in the crossfire between Israel and Iran. Shortly before Christmas, they surprised the world by suggesting the creation of a nuclear-free zone expressly for the Gulf. This would include Iraq and Iran, but not Israel. Amr Moussa, General Secretary of the Arab League, protested angrily behind the scenes.

"That would weaken the Arab position versus Israel and would imply that some of the Arab states are worried only about Iran’s atomic weapons," Salama explained. Thus, each country in the Arab world seems to be watching out for its own interests first.

PostsFrederik RichterComment