Here is an explanation of why I’m posting a class paper here. Basically, I’m circumventing turnitin.com ethically. Enjoy!
This work is in the Public Domain.
Jessica Dickinson Goodman
29 March 2010
Keeping up with the Khomenis
Nuclear ambitions in the Gulf Cooperation Council states are driven primarily by a thirst for status in the region. The environmental and economic advantages are often exaggerated, while the potential security benefits are misunderstood. Nuclear ambitions in the Middle East are cause for significant concern because of the proliferation, environmental and security risks they engender.
Cultural competition in the Gulf encompasses everything from sports to nuclear power. GCC countries seek nuclear power not primarily in response to Iran’s military threat, but to its cultural threat as both a Shia and a Persian nation in the primarily Sunni and Arab Gulf. In January 2010, the Islamic Games were canceled because Tehran, this year’s hosts, named the body of water between Saudi Arabia and Iran the “Persian Gulf” on the athletic medals (1). Iran’s brash nuclear program has set the regional bar for scientific development and effected the perceived security of the region (2). In the International Institutie for Strategic Studies (IISS)’s chapter on the region, each section on the states of the Arabian Peninsula includes a section on how their nuclear choices relate to their relationship with Iran (3).
To many states, a nuclear program is a signal that that state is advanced technologically (4). Successful nuclear programs need significant, long-term investment, a community of well-trained scientists, engineers and regulators to keep them safe, and a government that is willing to invest in research. Conversely, Egypt has found that a strongly anti-proliferation nuclear policy provides it more rather than less strategic regional power. The IISS argues that Egypt sees its non-proliferation regime “gives it a platform from which to condemn Israel’s refusal to accept to the NPT […]” (5). The effect of a nuclear program on international prestige is non-negligible, even though interest in nuclear power in the region is powered more by competition with Iran than non-Middle Eastern states.
The three major advantages of possessing nuclear power in the Middle East, other than increase in status, are energy diversification, reduction of pollution, and the potential for developing nuclear weapons. GCC states like the UAE and Qatar declare they want nuclear power is energy diversification and reduction of the environmental burden of electricity (6). This argument is only effective when the energy-rich nation interested in nuclear power is planning to export nearly all of its energy. Likewise with the argument that nuclear power would allow the GCC to make its energy production more environmentally friendly. For a country contemplating breaking out of the NPT to become a nuclear-armed state, a civilian program under that treaty allows them time and support for developing the facilities and training the scientists necessary to run a nuclear state.
The three major disadvantages in possessing nuclear power in the region are environmental degradation, economic opportunity costs, and the threat of potential nuclear weapons. Even though nuclear power could prevent significant CO2 emissions, its waste creates long-term potential environmental problems on a scale, 10,000 year half-life, which is difficult to imagine. Its economic benefits are also exaggerated because most states considering developing nuclear programs do not factor in the opportunity costs of displeasing their trading partners. While the NPT guarantees signatories help with civilian nuclear programs, current nuclear powers have very little interest in helping Middle Eastern countries develop nuclear programs, and appear prepared to penalize them for doing so.
Finally, the additional national security a nuclear program provides is far from clear. Dr Abbas Kadhim provides a common argument for national nuclear programs when he argues that Israel has used the nuclear weapons everyone in the region assumes that if Iran attacked Israel, Israel would “up the ante by responding to Iran’s missile attacks with nuclear weapons (a response likely to be supported by the United States) (7). This statements seems implausible, given Israel’s continued insecurity (8). Perhaps possession of nuclear technology makes Israel a larger target for threats and attacks, rather than a lesser one.
The GCC’s proclamations of nuclear ambitions are more diplomatic than factual. No GCC state has significant nuclear infrastructure. All have signed the Nonproliferation Treaty, though only Additional Protocol is only in force in Kuwait (9). Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait all have the old Small Quantities Protocol in force, and only Bahrain uses the modified SQP. Given the significant capital and political costs of building a nuclear program from scratch, no GCC state will have nuclear power before 2015 at the earliest (10).
In the broader Middle East, the situation is much the same, with a little more deceptive development. Syria and Libya have both worked towards nuclear programs but have had to stop (11). While Egypt has a strong administrative structure to support a nuclear program (initiated in since 1955 (12)) there has been no large-scale consistent technical investment in nuclear program. In the non-GCC Middle East, the price tag of $5-6 billion for a modern nuclear program is too high for now (13).
A country’s nuclear program appears to have a military agenda if they insisted on local reprocessing, used heavy-water reactors, did not sign the Additional Protocol, hid information from inspectors, or showed evidence of unnecessary reactor shut-downs. These technical and diplomatic indicators imply that that country is working towards plutonium production.
Nuclear power is seen by many leaders in the Middle East as an instant status-booster. However, the cases of Israel and Egypt show that possession of the nuclear program is not always in the strategic interests of a country. Additionally, the economic and security benefits of nuclear power are often exaggerated, while their security risks are underestimated. Nuclear programs will do the Middle East little good.
1 AFP. “Islamic games called off in rift over ‘Persian Gulf’ tag”. 17 January 2010. 2010
2 The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran. 2006.
3 The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran. 2006. pp 44 and 53-4. 4 Bodansky, David. Nuclear Energy: Principals, Practices, and Prospects. Pp1. 5 Ibid, pp 30.
6 The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran. 2006. pp 52 and 51.
7 Ibid, 585.
8 It is difficult to imagine that, even with Iran’s isolation, President Ahmadinejad would so boldly threaten Israel if its nuclear weapons did give it the status and potential destructive power that Abbas implies it has. Yoong, Sean. “Ahmadinejad: Destroy Israel, End Crisis”. 2006.
9 The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran. 2006. pp 15. 10 Ibid, pp 11.
11 Ibid, 73 and 97 respectively.
12 Einhorn, Robert J. Campbell, Kurt M. (Editor). Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices. Washington, DC, USA Brookings Institution Press, 2004, p 45.
13 Ibid, 52.
When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed.
But when we are silent, we are still afraid.
So it is better to speak.