America has always feared that a nuclear Iran would lead to a Middle Eastern arms race. Speaking at a regional security forum in Riyadh earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki Al-Faisal (former ambassador to the US and intelligence chief) stepped up the pressure. The NYT reports:
Prince Turki said at the forum on Monday that an Iranian quest for nuclear weapons and Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal might force Saudi Arabia to follow suit…
“It is our duty toward our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons,” Prince Turki was quoted as saying.
The nuclear virus is catching. Iran’s quest for the bomb is unacceptable to the US given that country’s alliances with terror groups and unremitting hostility toward others in the region, but it is understandable given that neighboring Pakistan and Israel are both in the nuclear club. But an Iranian bomb means that the Saudis will get one — and since the Saudis play a major role in Pakistan they will have less trouble than most if they decide to go that route. Once the Saudis have a bomb, countries like Turkey and Egypt will not want to accept second class citizenship.Prince Turki is probably not speaking at this point of any concrete plans. His comments are meant to goad President Obama to take a more hawkish approach toward Iran and to remind the White House that a nuclear Iran will kill any remaining hope to limit nuclear weapons to a handful of countries.If the House of Saud loses confidence in America’s will or capacity to defend it, a nuclear stockpile is the obvious alternative. Prince Turki does not want anyone in the White House to forget this bitter truth. Those who pooh pooh the chances that the Obama White House could be forced into overt as opposed to covert military action against the Iranian weapons program are underestimating the forces pushing the US to block the Iranian drive.