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The nuclear race between Iran and Israel have contributed to the instability and threatens the balance of power in the Gulf region, which leads to the need of creating a restraining force, hence, the UAE should reshape its nuclear policy to become this force that will bring the necessary balance of powers to the area.
The Gulf region has been associated with several conflicts created by particular policies and doctrines adopted in some countries. For instance, Iran has long tried to become the key player in the geopolitical arena and gain significant control over other countries (“The Doctrinal Foundations of Iran’s Geopolitical Project” 43). This doctrine has religious roots as Iranian leaders emphasize that Shiites should all unite with the core in Iran where this religious group is the majority. One of the steps to achieve this aim, as seen by Iranian leaders, is the development of the nuclear weapon, which is still one of the most influential factors in the geopolitical arena. Iran has technical capabilities to develop nuclear weapons through the country “appears not to have taken a final decision” on that matter (Dalton 92). Iran stresses that they are working on the development of peaceful nuclear power, which is important for its national security as it provides the necessary energetic security. It is noteworthy that many Arab countries have opposed these efforts and the overall Iranian nuclear policies (Charbel 7).
At the same time, Israel used to claim that they had peaceful nuclear power, but the existence of a significant nuclear arsenal has been proved recently (Borger par. 4). It is necessary to note that the country obtained the support of Western countries in its pursuit of the development of peaceful nuclear power, as claimed by the country’s officials. In particular, the USA and France were strategic partners of Israel in this respect. Israel constructed several nuclear power facilities. However, it turned out that the country also worked on the development of a nuclear weapons arsenal. The state is often seen as the primary opponent of the Arab world, therefore, nuclear weapons are regarded as the most efficient strategy to ensure the country’s security. The Palestinian issue is one of the most painful issues that contribute to the instability as the stakeholders involved often threaten each other (“Iran Nuclear Deal” 6). Importantly, Israel can use its nuclear arsenal as a means of deterrence as well as pressure on other countries in the Gulf region.
It is necessary to note that the major theoretical framework employed when evaluating the situation in the region is the balance of power theory. Waltz, one of the proponents of the theory, stresses that countries “are compelled to form a counter-weight” when some forces (one country or several states) are gaining more power (Daase 151). Importantly, Hedley Bull stresses that the international arena is rather anarchical, and states have to employ a variety of means to achieve their security (Daase 150). As has been mentioned above, some countries in the region are trying to gain control over the entire area, which is consistent with Waltz’s approach. However, it is also clear that Bull’s perspective is more applicable when it comes to the Gulf countries. Iran and Israel have used quite anarchical ways to pursue their geopolitical goals.
Thus, Israeli nuclear dominance in the region has been a contributing factor to instability in the Gulf area (Waltz 3). The country has developed peaceful nuclear power and covertly constructed nuclear weapons. Notably, the Israeli nuclear program lasted several decades, and the country collaborated with many countries including France, the USA, and even Iraq. Iran has tried to become the restraining force and obtain the right to have peaceful nuclear power. However, these attempts met fierce opposition from Western countries as well as states of the Gulf region.
At that, Iranian attempts to develop nuclear power have become rather successful recently as the Western countries are now reconsidering sanctions imposed. Although the issue has not been resolved yet, Iran will likely receive support or in many cases the absence of opposition (“Iran Nuclear Deal” 2). Analysts note that Iran can have at least two directions to move in. First, they can choose confrontation with the western powers and develop nuclear weapons, but this scenario is unlikely as the country has benefited significantly from the removal of some sanctions and open dialogue with the West (Waltz 2). The more likely scenario is the choice to develop peaceful nuclear power and obtain the technical capability to produce weapons (Waltz 2). It is still unclear which direction Iran will choose. However, in both cases, the stability in the region will be undermined.
The United Arab Emirates can become the power that will bring the necessary balance to GCC countries. The state started working on the development of the comprehensive nuclear plan in 2005 when the Technical Cooperation project was launched (Blanchard and Kerr 3). The project was aimed to estimate the feasibility of the development of nuclear power. It has been estimated that the power demand will be growing at a 9% rate each year, and the construction of nuclear power plants will satisfy the needs of the country. Importantly, the country has already obtained the necessary support from such countries as the USA, Japan, the UK, France, and Korea (Blanchard and Kerr 5). Importantly, the country has entered close cooperation with the USA aimed at the development of sustainable and efficient nuclear reactors (Dirioz and Reimold par. 2). Importantly, the Emirati government chose the Korean consortium the Korea Electric Power Corporation, and the plants will be operating by 2017. Therefore, it is clear that the UAE will soon have significant nuclear potential.
The United Arab Emirates made the right decision and started the construction of several nuclear plants. Although the country stresses that nuclear power is aimed at ensuring the economic and energetic security of the UAE, it should also be utilized as an important signal to all the countries in the region. This message should be communicated in the international arena. The United Arab Emirates should reveal their commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as their readiness to use nuclear power as a tool of deterrence. The UAE should also continue its diplomatic effort concerning the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The country should facilitate dialogue among countries in the Gulf region. The status of the state having nuclear power potential will make the UAE a significant player in the geopolitical and regional arena whose opinion will have considerable weight.
Of course, the Emirati government should make sure that nuclear power plants are efficient and sustainable. This will ensure energetic security, the economic advantage of the UAE as well as the easiness of transformation from peaceful to military uses. The country should also work on the development of the technical capabilities of the use of the enriched uranium for military purposes. The country should also have close the necessary facilities and sources to transform peaceful nuclear power into weapons. The proximity of these resources is essential, and corresponding agreements or memorandums have to be made. Collaboration with the USA can be fruitful. Waltz stresses that Japan is a country that does not have nuclear weapons but it can swiftly produce them if necessary (2). This ensures the country’s national security. This country can also become a strategic partner and supplier of the necessary sources.
It is clear that apart from the national security concerns, the UAE has to invest in the development of deterrence weapons to become the necessary restraining force in the region. To achieve this aim, the country should obtain international support, which will lead to effective collaboration in the sphere of technological development. The UAE can use the experience of such countries as the USA, Japan, and Korea in the development and implementation of its nuclear program. It is necessary to improve the collaboration with the USA that can be a strategic partner in the Emirati nuclear program. It is necessary to collaborate with Japan as well since this country has valuable experience in the implementation of similar projects.
Blanchard, Christopher M., and Paul K. Kerr. The United Arab Emirates Nuclear Program and Proposed US Nuclear Cooperation. 2010. Web.
Borger, Julian. “The Truth About Israel’s Secret Nuclear Arsenal.” The Guardian 2014. Web.
Charbel, Bechara Nassar. GCC Coordination at the Consultative Summit. 2015. Web.
Daase, Christopher. “The English School.” Theories of International Relations. Ed. Siegfried Schieder and Manuela Spindler. New York: Routledge, 2014. 147-163. Print.
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Dalton, Richard. “Iran.” Gulf Kaleidoscope (2014): 88-100. Web.
Dirioz, Ali Oguz, and Benjamin A. Reimold. “The Strategic Context of the UAE’s Nuclear Project: A Model for the Region?” Middle East Policy Council. XXI.3 (2014). Web.
Iran Nuclear Deal: Risks and Opportunities. 2015. Web.
The Doctrinal Foundations of Iran’s Geopolitical Project. 2014. Web.
Waltz, Kenneth N. “Why Iran Should Get the Bomb: Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability.” Foreign Affairs 91.4 (2012): 2-5. Print.