The nuclear agreement that Iran and six major world powers signed in 2015 has focused the international community’s attention on Middle Eastern nuclear politics. But that deal is only part of an unfolding nuclear story that begins with the need for more energy in the region to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and to power desalination plants, new industry, and air conditioning. Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates all have ambitious plans to build nuclear power plants to generate electricity. This Middle East nuclear power boom is greatly complicated by the challenges of keeping civilian nuclear power safe, protected from terrorists, and delinked from a nuclear weapons programme. If Washington can offer ways to safely and cleanly provide for the growing energy needs of local populations, it has the potential to play a major role in reducing the risk of nuclear breakdown. But it is Moscow, not Washington, that seems to be providing the most compelling energy answers.
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