In my Sunday column, I explained why we shouldn't expect a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if Iran manages to acquire the bomb. History indicates proliferation is rare, because most states facing nuclear enemies see no need to match their arsenals. But there's another reason to doubt an outbreak of proliferation: It's not as easy as it looks.
Steven Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, explains that there is a "significant difference between desiring nukes and the actual capacity to acquire them."
Among the countries that supposedly will rush to go nuclear are Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Not only does Turkey enjoy the protection of NATO, but the country "has no fissile material, cannot mine or enrich uranium, and does not possess the technology to reprocess spent fuel, all of which are necessary for nuclear weapons development." Saudi Arabia, he notes, "has no nuclear facilities and no scientific infrastructure to support them."
As for those who think Egypt is likely to build a bomb, Cook says, "Have they been to Egypt lately? If so, they might have a better grasp of Egypt's ramshackle infrastructure and the dire state of its economy, neither of which can support a nuclear program."
Even if it were simple and quick, these countries have good reasons to forgo nukes. But it's not, which should seal the deal.
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