Nuclear Energy in the Middle East: Clearing the Legal Hurdle

With an increase in the number of states declaring a desire to develop nuclear energy capabilities, there has been an increased awareness as to the legal aspects surrounding nuclear development.  How have the the U.S. and the international community dealt with the emerging legal issues?

On Wednesday, March 4, 2009 the Institute for Law, Science and Global Security, in conjunction with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, hosted a panel discussion on the topic of nuclear energy development in the Middle East at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.  The panelists included Sharon Squassoni, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Patricia Metx, Deputy Director of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Safety and Security at the U.S. Department of State; Omer Brown, Attorney at Law; and Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.  The panelists discussed the varying regulatory and legal perspectives related to the recent calls for developing nuclear energy in the Middle East.

With the status of nuclear energy taking on an increasing role whether it be for efficiency, environmental, cost, or security reasons, there has been a recognition amongst scholars and policy-makers of the need to create an effective regulatory environment--both domestically and internationally--for countries committing to such projects.  The unfolding nuclear energy plans and the associated liability issues are neither being met by the existing international regulatory frameworks, nor coordinated on a system-wide basis amongst international state actors.

The panel disccussion addressed these various topics and engaged the audience in assessing the current phase of nuclear energy development in the Middle East and possible future developments in this area.