Several Arab countries have recently manifested an interest in civilian nuclear energy. For some, like Egypt, this is the revival of an old interest, for others, notably the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it represents a clear reversal of previously held positions. This interest has been interpreted as an implicit threat to move in the direction of acquiring a military nuclear capability, in case Iran develops a bomb. Instead, the article argues that interest in nuclear energy has strong economic motivations for all Arab countries, although the position of the GCC is quite different from that of North Africa and Levant countries, from the point of view of both the cogency of motivation and the ability to concretely and rapidly launch a civilian nuclear program.
Revised version of a paper presented at the seminar "Transatlantic Perspectives on the Mediterranean" organised by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in Rome on 28 June 2008 with the contribution of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the scientific support of EuroMesco.