The Iran nuclear deal: Prelude to proliferation in the Middle East?
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) adopted by Iran and the P5+1 partners in July 2015 was an effort not only to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but also to avert a nuclear arms competition in the Middle East. But uncertainties surrounding the future of the Iran nuclear deal, including the question of what Iran will do when key JCPOA restrictions on its nuclear program expire after 15 years, could provide incentives for some of its neighbors to keep their nuclear options open.
In their Brookings Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Series monograph, “The Iran Nuclear Deal: Prelude to Proliferation in the Middle East?,” Robert Einhorn and Richard Nephew assess the current status of the JCPOA and explore the likelihood that, in the wake of the agreement, regional countries will pursue their own nuclear weapons programs or at least latent nuclear weapons capabilities. Drawing on interviews with senior government officials and non-government experts from the region, they focus in depth on the possible motivations and capabilities of Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates for pursuing nuclear weapons. The monograph also offers recommendations for policies to reinforce the JCPOA and reduce the likelihood that countries of the region will seek nuclear weapons.
On May 31, the Brookings Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative hosted a panel to discuss the impact of the JCPOA on prospects for nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Brookings Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Foreign Policy Suzanne Maloney served as moderator. Panelists included H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States; Derek Chollet, counselor and senior advisor for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund; Brookings Senior Fellow Robert Einhorn; and Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Richard Nephew.
Ambassador - Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
Executive Vice President and Senior Advisor for Security and Defense Policy - German Marshall Fund of the United States
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No individual is crucial in a nuclear program like this anymore. The Iranians mastered that technology twenty years ago. This guy was important, no question, but he was not crucial to it. Nobody is crucial to it anymore. That’s why describing this as a devastating blow is nonsense... I think the three amigos—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia—share an overwhelming determination to prevent Joe Biden from reviving U.S.-Iran diplomacy and the nuclear deal... When you think back to 2016, when John Kerry called up his Iranian counterpart every week and spoke to him on the phone—it was extraordinary. The Saudis and Israelis are desperate to prevent that from happening again. How do they set up a situation where Biden is boxed in and can’t do anything about it?