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Who Will Have the Bomb in 2020 in the Middle East?

Yoselis Ramos

Over a two-day conference that started Monday at the University of South Florida, experts are looking into the future of the Middle East and Central Asia in the year 2020 and what implications that has on American foreign policy.

One of the big "what if" questions at this conference was "who will have the bomb in 2020?" In other words, what are the possibilities of a Middle Eastern country getting a nuclear weapon?

Dr. Gary Samore gave his prediction. He was President Obama's coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction for four years.

Samore is optimistic. He said no Middle Eastern country is likely to acquire nuclear weapons.

"In my view, no Arab country will have the indigenous capacity to produce nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future, unless they acquire major  nuclear assistance from foreign sources," Samore said.

He believes the countries that could possibly sell sensitive nuclear technology to Middle Eastern countries are Pakistan and North Korea. He suggests the U.S. keep an eye on those two in the next few years.

In the case of Iran, Samore said it wants nuclear weapons to protect itself from enemies and to exert dominance over the Middle East, but even so, it has one thing keeping it from doing so.

"I don't believe that Iran's nuclear program is simply a political statement," he said, "I think it's intended to produce nuclear weapons but they haven't been able to because of their fear that it will lead to a military conflict with the United States."

The conference is free to the public, but reservations are encouraged. Contact Beth Beall at (813) 947-5481 or bbeall@usf.edu. For more information about the conference, visit http://global.usf.edu/csds/index.php.

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