May 23, 2016
Tehran’s Arab Rivals Respond to the Iranian Nuclear Challenge – Dr. Shaul Shay (Israel Defense)
- Several countries in the Middle East and North Africa have announced plans to build nuclear power plants. The United Arab Emirates’ Barakah project, the first Arab nuclear plant, is expected to start generating electricity in 2017. Saudi Arabia will follow with a nuclear plan involving sixteen reactors, with the first expected to be operating in 2022. Jordan signed a deal with Russia to build a nuclear power plant, projected to be operational in 2023.
- Egypt and Russia signed an agreement on November 19, 2015, under which Russia will build and finance Egypt’s first nuclear power plant through a $25 billion loan. The planned plant would be located at an existing nuclear site in Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast, west of Alexandria. The Egyptian power plant, to be completed in 2022, will have four reactors and will also have desalination capabilities.
- Egypt’s desire for a nuclear program could also be seen as part of the greater Sunni reaction to Iran’s program and what they fear will be a Shia nuclear bomb.
- Israel has long argued that a nuclear Iran would set off a regional nuclear race, as Tehran’s traditional rivals in the Middle East would quickly move to respond to the Iranian nuclear program challenge.
Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, Director of Research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel, was the deputy head of the National Security Council of Israel.