As international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program move closer to resolution — whether in an agreement, or in collapse of the talks — Russia may see expanding opportunities for nuclear power plant construction across the Middle East. As a result, nuclear diplomacy is likely only to grow in importance for Moscow. It may also become an increasing source of tension with the United States.
The United States has, of course, long argued that an Iranian nuclear warhead, or even an enrichment capability, could accelerate proliferation by prompting governments throughout the Middle East to develop their own nuclear power plants so that they, like Iran, could move closer to a nuclear weapons capability. At the same time, rising electricity consumption is forcing leaders in the region to consider their options in ensuring adequate electricity generation. Tightening water supplies, and the massive amounts of energy required for desalination plants to process seawater for industrial, agricultural or residential use, only intensify the pressure to produce more power.