The Nuclear Question in the Middle East

Part of the Georgetown University, Center for International and Regional Studies, School of Foreign Service in Qatar series
June 2012 9781849042116 276pp


The nuclear age is coming to the Middle East. Understanding the scope and motivations for this development and its implications for global security is essential. The last decade has witnessed an explosion of popular and scholarly attention focussed on nuclear issues around the globe and especially in the Middle East. These studies fall into one of four general categories. They tend to focus either on the security and military aspects of nuclear weapons, or on the sources and mechanisms for proliferation and means of reversing it, or nuclear energy, or the logics driving state policymakers toward adopting the nuclear option. The Nuclear Question in the Middle East is the first book of its kind to combine thematic and theoretical discussions regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear energy with case studies from across the region.

What are the key domestic drivers of nuclear behaviour and decision-making in the Middle East? How are the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council seeking to employ nuclear energy to further guarantee and expedite their hyper-growth of recent decades? Are there ideal models emerging in this regard that others might emulate in the foreseeable future, and, if so, what consequences is this development likely to have for other civilian nuclear aspirants? These region-wide themes form the backdrop against which specific case studies are examined.


‘A top flight collection of essays on one of the most controversial and sensitive topics in both Middle East politics and studies of nuclear proliferation in general. … provides a great overview of how the current situation has come about, and how regional actors are likely to press ahead in the medium and longterm future. A solid multidisciplinary investigation into a key global issue.’ — Christopher Davidson, Reader in Middle East Politics at Durham University

‘Combining theoretical perspectives with rich empirical insights, this superb volume offers a comprehensive exploration of nuclear dynamics in a rapidly changing Middle East. The research is well-organized, well-written and highly nuanced — an elusive combination. The authors are informed by a deep historical sensibility, yet are also forward looking in their analyses. In particular, the chapters on the domestic sources of nuclear decision-making will be of immense value to specialists and policymakers grappling with the still-unfolding implications of the Arab revolts and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.’ — Frederic Wehrey, Senior Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation and author of Coping with a Nuclearizing Iran (RAND, 2011)

‘The writers of this collection of essays raise several important questions: who holds the reins of nuclear power in the Middle East? How advanced are their developments? To what ends will these countries go to further them? Indeed, why resort to nuclear power at all in a region already beset with its own complex issues involving foreign policy, democracy and economic challenges? …  The Nuclear Question in the Middle East provides an interesting source book for the curious and, as a work of academic research, each essay emerges as both in-depth and insightful.’ — The National

‘By combining theoretical with rich empirical insights, this volume offers a comprehensive exploration of nuclear dynamics in rapidly changing Middle East. The research is well-organized, well-written and highly nuanced.’— The Muslim World Book Review, 2014

‘While the world watches Iran, and tries to guess how many nuclear weapons Israel has, nuclear programs are being developed across the Middle East. The timely message in this valuable study of the current situation is that the Middle East is going nuclear whether the world likes it or not.’ — Jeremy Salt, Department of Political Science at Bilkent University (Ankara), and author ofThe Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands


Mehran Kamrava is Professor of Government at Georgetown University in Qatar, and Director of the Iranian Studies Unit at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. His books on Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs include Inside the Arab State and Triumph and Despair, both published by Hurst.  

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