The government of Saudi Arabia has announced a new section of its capital Riyadh is set to be powered solely by nuclear energy. This will be the first nuclear power plant in the Gulf states, and the first in the broader Middle East.
If the U.S. government backs Saudi Arabia's bid to build a reactor, they'll be creating the potential for nuclear growth within the GCC, or Gulf Cooperation Council, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman.
All of those states are also reviewing the possibility of producing nuclear fuel, so they can export more oil and gas to foreign markets.
The GCC is largely allied with the United States and their key security issue is Iran's rise in power across the Persian Gulf.
The U.S. must be concerned that by allowing oil-rich ally Saudi Arabia to invest in nuclear technology, it will be further escalating its conflict with Iran.
The talk of a double standard in terms of peaceful nuclear energy in the Middle East will have further credence if the U.S. allows a Gulf state to make the move to nuclear.
The main issue is the non-proliferation treaty. While most of the states in question have joined, Israel remains outside the scope of the treaty and Iran is defiant of the precepts it signed.
Peaceful nuclear power could be the straw that breaks the region's geopolitical back.
By. Gregory White