Analysis of the Developing States in the MENA Region Seeking Civilian Nuclear Energy, with a Primary Focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Thaqal Alhuzaymi
Ayodeji Babatunde Alajo, Missouri University of Science and Technology

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The comprehensive analysis presented here attempts to ana­lyze “newcomer” states in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), primarily the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Unit­ed Arab Emirates (UAE), seeking to implement civilian nuclear energy according to their political and economic situations. By investigating their motivations and funding resources for fu­ture nuclear projects, this analysis provides guidance for these states in terms of their nuclear infrastructure and nonprolifera­tion. The overall approach of this analysis relies on the factors for the success of civilian nuclear energy programs identified in experiential studies conducted since the Atoms for Peace speech in 1953.This study also attempts to reduce the gap between developing and developed states by clarifying the ma­jor challenges involved in nuclear cooperation and technology transferal.

Since the 1980s, the MENA region has experienced vari­ous crises, including the Iraq-Iran War, the Gulf War, terrorist attacks, the Arab Spring, and the Islamic State (IS).However, the two states analyzed here have maintained stable politi­cal environments without disturbances to their governmental systems. Moreover, from an economic viewpoint, both states have high revenue from oil and gas production and high oil reserves (more than 20 percent of the world’s proven oil re­serves).Regarding their motivation for seeking civilian nuclear energy, these states are attempting to address their estimated 8-9 percent annual increase in electricity demand, rapid popula­tion growth, and the need for more desalination plants. By im­plementing nuclear energy programs, these newcomer states will face challenges related to their nuclear strategy, roadmap, infrastructure, and human resources. To address these chal­lenges, the newcomer states will have to secure intense for­eign cooperation by signing nuclear agreements with devel­oped states and showing a clear record of compliance with nuclear nonproliferation commitments, such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements (CSA), and the Additional Protocol (AP), which will raise the transparency of the civilian nuclear program.