Multinational Uranium Enrichment in the Middle East

By Ali Ahmad, Sidra Salahieh, and Ryan Snyder

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed to by Iran and the P5+1 in July 2015 placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program while other Middle Eastern countries– Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates–are planning to build their own nuclear power plants to meet increasing electricity demands. Although the JCPOA restricts Iran’s uranium enrichment program for 10–15 years, Iran’s neighbors may choose to develop their own national enrichment programs giving them a potential nuclear weapons capability. This paper argues that converting Iran’s national enrichment program to a more proliferation-resistant multinational arrangement could offer significant economic benefits–reduced capital and operational costs–due to economies of scale and the utilization of more efficient enrichment technologies. In addition, the paper examines policy aspects related to financing, governance, and how multinational enrichment could fit into the political and security context of the Middle East. A multinational enrichment facility managed by regional and international partners would provide more assurance that it remains peaceful and could help build confidence between Iran and its neighbors to cooperate in managing other regional security challenges.

You can read the full paper published in Energy Policy below.

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