International concern has been focused on Iran’s uranium enrichment program and Tehran’s potential and intention to develop nuclear weapons. Many leaders and constituencies are also worried about Israel's nuclear arsenal, the only one in the Middle East. In addition, there could be a growing ambiguity around the long-term nuclear ambitions of other Gulf states.
Our work in this region focuses on the diplomacy, regulation and development of nuclear programs in the Middle East. Our approach acknowledges that improvement in the stability and assurance over nuclear programs require policies to account for the security concerns of other states in the region, and are addressed in a way that avoids perceptions of discrimination. One step in this path is a proposal that already has received formal international support: a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Work on establishing the zone was a key condition for the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995, but little was achieved until the 2010 NPT Review Conference agreed to hold a conference on the issue in 2012. This deadline has come and gone with little progress on the issue, but there remains hope that such a conference can be convened in the near future.
In the meantime BASIC is looking to establish holistic processes that link regional dialogue on nuclear safety, security and safeguards with strategies to tackle energy insecurity, as a way into addressing common interests and mutual concerns in the region.
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