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Over a dozen nations in the Middle East, from February 2006 to January 2007, announced intentions for a nuclear program, or had restarted dormant programs, according to a report by London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
All of the programs began after Iran continued its nuclear enrichment plans in defiance of the United Nations.
The report, “Nuclear Programs in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran,” suggests that the upswing in nuclear intentions is a result of Iran’s program going unabated, or an attempt to counter-balance the possibility of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.
“If Tehran’s nuclear program is unchecked, there is reason for concern that it could in time prompt a regional cascade of proliferation among Iran’s neighbors,” the report stated.
However, the declared programs are all “civilian” and will be subject to the strict observation of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman are involved in a joint nuclear feasibility study, and Egypt has restored its plans for nuclear power. The Associated Press reported that Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia have few energy reserves and are driven toward nuclear power partly to gain independence in an age of soaring oil prices.
According to the IISS, Algeria has “one of the most advanced nuclear-science programs in the Arab world,” but has complained of “Western pressure to accept additional nonproliferation obligations.”
Turkey and Egypt both have declared they will have nuclear reactors in place by 2015.