Arabs, let’s go nuclear

Iran being allowed to have a limited nuclear program paves the way for other Middle Eastern states

Raed Omari

Published: Updated:

The least that should be learnt from the recently reached deal between the P5+1 and Iran is that Arabs, now more geopolitically rivaled, should push for securing a membership in the world’s still-exclusive nuclear club.

The explicit and implicit intentions behind the nuclear deal the P5+1 goup reached with Iran and its ultimate goal should not be a big concern for Arab countries, particularly those allied under the so-called “axis of moderation” comprising Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and most Gulf states.

For these countries, the agreement with Iran – nowadays-promoted as “historic” – and its undeniable political implications should mean one thing – the Arab world is now geopolitically rivaled by the two internationally-recognized nuclear powers – Israel from the west and now Iran from the east.

For the oil-rich Arab states and their allies, Jordan and Egypt, the simplest way to alleviate such an “internationally-accredited” challenge and consequently keep balanced within the Middle East’s political and military rivalry is to invest in large-scale, covert nuclear programs for peaceful or even military purposes.

This might be interpreted by many as pure deviation or tendency to “madness” – the term always attached to nuclear weapons – but with regard to the unprecedented geopolitical pressure resulting from the deal with Iran, “going nuclear” might be the best mechanism for the massively-rivaled Arabs.


Helpless and dismayed Arabs, who have long urged for obliging Israel to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to reach the ultimate goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction and have always had their call unheard are now required to adapt to a new political situation – Iran as a regional power as accredited by their longtime ally the U.S.

One would argue against such a rationale, saying that the U.S.’s ultimate goal in the breakthrough agreement is to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons before they are built when stipulating in the deal the limitation of uranium enrichment – the main point of contention over Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons drive — to low levels that can only be used for civilian energy purposes.

The whole oil-rich Arab region knows that while nuclear energy is expensive and environmentally risky, obtaining nuclear technology even for exclusively peaceful purposes has long been a state’s source of power and influence

Raed Omari

Scientifically and totally not politically, such an argument is valid to a greater extent.

Despite President Barack Obama’s and Secretary of State John Kerry’s forceful defence of the “historic” accord, Iran succeeded in gaining international recognition for its controversial nuclear program and, more importantly, as a regional power.

While getting such recognition from world powers of its right of nuclear technology is for many observers the major aspect of Iran’s victory in the recently-announced deal in Geneva, Tehran’s success in preserving its regime is the major triumph and the primary goal of the deal for many others, including George Friedman of the Texas-based Stratfor Global Intelligence think tank.

Reducing hardships

In a recently published report, Friedman argued that the lessening of Western sanctions on Iran in exchange of limited uranium enrichment would result in reducing Iranian economic hardships and alleviating their hidden anger over their rulers.

For Ari Shavit of The New York Times, with the Americans and their allies loosening the economic siege on Iran, they “allow Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the economic oxygen needed to sustain his autocratic regime.” Shavit has gone further as arguing that the accord would help slow down Iran’s race to the nuclear bomb but it would also guarantee that Tehran would eventually cross the finish line.

If the deal were accompanied by a U.S.’s decisive stance on Syria with a clear roadmap, Arab longtime allies’ frustration, dismay and perplexity over the deal would have been a lot lower.

Once more, let us not be too bothered and annoyed by the repercussions of the six-month interim agreement and focus more on how to remain influential in the region’s never-ended state of rivalry again through entering the nuclear race.

In fact, Arab states trying to obtain nuclear technologies in a bid to be balanced with the intensively-backed Israel is not something new, beginning from the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt through Iraq, Algeria and Libya.

Softening stance

What is so remarkable is that, right after the announcement of the deal with Iran, Jordanian officials began taking with ease about uranium to be enriched locally in the kingdom’s projected nuclear plants instead of nuclear fuel, certainly having seen the United States’ softening stance with Iran.

The whole oil-rich Arab region knows that while nuclear energy is expensive and environmentally risky, obtaining nuclear technology even for exclusively peaceful purposes has long been a state’s source of power and influence. This is one of the driving factors behind Iran’s determination on obtaining nuclear technologies. The angry Israelis are aware of that already.

Taking into account such an aspect, along with the new geopolitical challenges the nuclear deal has brought with it, Arab states are requested to think of embarking on large-scale nuclear programs with no fear whatsoever of being suspected or sanctioned as nuclear bomb seekers.

Israel, which struck Iraq’s and Syria’s covert nuclear facilities in 1981 and 2007 respectively, is less expected to attack any of the moderate Arab states’ future nuclear facilities even if operating overtly on a large scale - due to the high price of such a unilateral move that is difficult to be approved by the U.S. which opposed any military action by Israel against its nemesis, Iran.

To the extent that the P5+1 deal has given Iran legitimacy for nuclear activities, it will and should give other Middle Eastern states the right to also go nuclear.

Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya News. He can be reached via raed_omari1977@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

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