Jordan is reportedly choosing between two designs for nuclear power reactors in part to help address a domestic energy shortage, stoking fears about the spread of nuclear technology in a region still gripped by upheaval. In an email interview, Steve Thomas, director of research at the business school at University of Greenwich and an expert on the economics and policy of nuclear power, explained the significant obstacles to Jordan’s development of nuclear power. WPR: What is the current state of Jordan’s nuclear energy program? Steve Thomas: Reports implying that Jordan will soon order two nuclear power reactors are misleading. It […]

Sudan has been pursuing some eye-catching regional diplomacy in recent weeks. In late-February, Sudan’s ICC-indicted defense minister was in Riyadh, while its oil czar was in Tehran. These visits followed a meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Cairo in January, and Bashir’s attendance at the Arab Economic Development Summit in Riyadh earlier in February. Combined, the moves suggest a shift in Sudan’s tactical approach to relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, one guided by Khartoum’s pragmatic concerns for regime survival. Sudan has had difficult […]

During Mexico’s 2012 presidential election, opponents of then-candidate Enrique Peña Nieto warned that the young governor’s election would spell the return of the old-guard cronyism of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Yet as president, Peña Nieto has taken nearly the opposite course, assembling a cabinet of young PRI technocrats and members of rival parties. And in recent weeks he has mustered his centrist government into mounting an assault against Mexico’s entrenched monopolies. In February, Peña Nieto signed into law a bill to give the state more control over the hiring and firing of teachers. Days later, Elba Esther Gordillo, the […]

Given domestic economic weaknesses, security competition with India and an antagonistic relationship with Afghanistan, Pakistan has traditionally sought external alliances with strong powers and pursued an offensive security policy. Nevertheless, there has been a dawning realization in Islamabad that a new approach is necessary, and as a result, Pakistan’s foreign and defense policies are undergoing important transformations, including a normalization of relations with neighbors and a renewed focus on domestic security threats. With a low growth rate, high inflation, budget deficits and unsustainable debt, economic weakness is the single biggest challenge for Pakistan. A major energy shortage, which both results […]

At the beginning of the 1980s, governments controlled the energy sector in all the major Latin American countries. Over the next two decades, however, the combination of low energy prices and a lack of state capital to support exploration and production by national oil companies’ (NOCs) forced energy policy reforms in every country. These took the form of market-oriented policies emphasizing privatization, liberalization and fiscal discipline, known as the Washington Consensus. While the consensus prevailed, hydrocarbon rents went overwhelmingly to private firms, and the promised benefits of economic reforms turned out to be short-lived, if they materialized at all; the […]

The past two decades have brought dramatic swings in the pace and extent of Latin American natural gas and electricity integration. Enthusiasm among the region’s investors and governments has waxed and waned as the economic and political drivers of cross-border investment and cooperation have evolved. Recent technological developments that have unlocked shale gas resources in the United States will be extended to Latin America. At the same time, renewed political momentum for regional economic cooperation and trade also extends to the energy sector. As a result, a new phase of regional energy integration is gathering pace, but it will be […]

As South America’s middle class continues to grow, two important political priorities will increasingly clash: the need to meet growing energy demand, and an increasing sensitivity to the environment. Until these legitimate interests can be reconciled, however, the massive investment required to meet burgeoning energy demand across the region will be less likely to materialize. Brazil, whose Belo Monte Dam project is one of the most ambitious public works projects in the region, offers an excellent case in point. The project has been controversial since its inception in the 1970s, during the Brazilian dictatorship. Opponents successfully stalled the project due […]