Years ago, when world leaders started speaking out about the dangers of Iran's nuclear program, one of the potential threats they cited was the possibility that it would spark a flurry of competing nuclear programs throughout the Middle East. Today, as international efforts to stop Iran's uranium enrichment remain unsuccessful, the once-distant prospect of a Middle East crowded with nuclear plants has moved a long way toward becoming a reality.
In recent days, Jordan signed a nuclear cooperation deal with Japan, setting the stage for the Hashemite kingdom to start receiving nuclear technology and nuclear materials. Japanese officials also inked deals in Kuwait, while the Gulf Cooperation Council completed one of the studies needed to move the oil-rich Arab monarchies one step closer to their plans to develop nuclear energy.
All told, more than a dozen countries in the Arab Middle East are moving forward with plans to develop nuclear programs. Every one of those countries insists, just as Iran does, that their sole aim is to produce nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons. Still, there is no denying the link between Iran's development of its uranium enrichment operations and the sudden interest demonstrated by almost all of its neighbors to jump into the nuclear game.