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HOME > WORKING PAPERS & MONOGRAPHS      
Avoiding a Nuclear Wild, Wild West in the Middle East (Working Paper 1801)

With the Trump Administration’s announcement last fall that it intended to negotiate a civil nuclear cooperative agreement with Saudi Arabia, a debate has ensued over how restrictive any such agreement should be over the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of plutonium. These nuclear activities can bring a country within weeks of making its first batch of bombs. This announcement immediately raised the question, how much economic sense it made for Saudi Arabia to invest in nuclear power.

It also raised a number of security questions. Should the United States allow Riyadh to reprocess and enrich even though these activities could bring Saudi Arabia within weeks of acquiring nuclear weapons? If Washington acceded to this demand by Riyadh, what would be the implications for the terms of nuclear cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Morocco? How would such an agreement impact efforts to tighten the terms of our nuclear understanding with Iran? Would such a permissive deal with Riyadh make it more difficult to say no to Seoul’s demand that we allow them to enrich uranium? All of these questions and more are discussed in this volume’s four sections.

May 03, 2018
AUTHOR: Henry Sokolski, Geoffrey Styles, Patrick Clawson, Ali Ahmad, Robin Mills, Victor Gilinsky, and Alexander Savelyev

(Download the complete working paper as a PDF

 

 

Table of Contents

Preface
Henry D. Sokolski

1. Avoiding a Nuclear Wild, Wild West in the Middle East
Henry D. Sokolski

Section I: Does Nuclear Power Make Sense for Iran?

2. The Enigma of Resource-Rich Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Energy
Geoffry Styles

3. Meeting Iran’s Energy Needs Without Nuclear Power
Patrick Clawson

Section II: Does Nuclear Power Make Sense for Saudi Arabia?

4. Economic Considerations of Nuclear Power Deployment in Saudi Arabia
Ali Ahmad

5. Saudi Arabia Energy Needs and Nuclear Power
Robin Mills

Section III: Should the United States Be “Flexible” in Allowing Riyadh to Reprocess and Enrich?

6. Don’t Give Saudi Arabia an Easy Path to Nukes
Victor Gilinsky and Henry D. Sokolski

7. Want Nuclear Controls on Riyadh? Start with Seoul
Victor Gilinsky and Henry D. Sokolski

8. Why Nuclear Cooperation Agreements Need “Gold Standard” Protection
Victor Gilinsky

 Section IV: Is Pushing Nuclear Power in the Middle East a Mistake?

9. A Cautionary Tale for Dealing with Riyadh
Henry D. Sokolski

10. Washington and Moscow Should Focus on Keeping Nuclear Energy Out of the Middle East
Alexander Savelyev and Henry D. Sokolski

 

Appendix: Avoiding a Nuclear Wild, Wild West in the Middle East Presentation

About the Contributors

 


Preface

Most of the research published in this working paper, Avoiding a Nuclear Wild, Wild West in the Middle East, is the result of a Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) project to implement Title V of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978. Title V called on the executive to routinely produce assessments of how developing countries might meet their energy and environmental requirements more economically without additional nuclear power. As part of this project, NPEC commissioned a series of studies focused on Iran and Saudi Arabia. These energy assessments are part of this volume.

The Saudi analyses became all the more relevant when the White House announced in December 2017 that the United States would strike a civil nuclear cooperative agreement with Riyadh. This announcement immediately raised the question how much economic sense it made for Saudi Arabia to invest in nuclear power.

It also raised a number of security questions. Should the United States allow Riyadh to reprocess and enrich even though these activities could bring Saudi Arabia within weeks of acquiring nuclear weapons? If Washington acceded to this demand by Riyadh what would be the implications for the terms of nuclear cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Morocco? How would such an agreement impact efforts to tighten the terms of our nuclear understanding with Iran? Would such a permissive deal with Riyadh make it more difficult to say no to Seoul’s demand that we allow them to enrich uranium?

All of these questions and more are discussed in this volume’s four sections. This working paper is being published in the hope that it will inform not only the debate over what the terms for nuclear cooperation should be for Saudi Arabia but also what Washington’s civil nuclear cooperative policy should be in the Middle East and globally after the Saudi deal is struck.

Henry D. Sokolski

The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), is a 501 (c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization
founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues. NPEC educates policymakers, journalists,
and university professors about proliferation threats and possible new policies and measures to meet them.
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