Friday, February 10, 2012

Saudis Threaten To Obtain Nuclear Weapons If Iran Tests Own Nuclear Weapons

As I've been indicating for a while, the Saudis have a vested interest in seeing that Iran doesn't obtain nuclear weapons. They are the chief rivals for the Iranian regime and there are religious connotations to the geopolitical maneuverings.

While unnamed US offiicals and others think that Israel is behind a rash of attacks that have killed scientists involved in Iran's nuclear program to derail or at least slow down their nuclear ambitions, I've noted that Saudi Arabia may also be involved in the process. In fact, Iran may consider Saudi Arabia to be the bigger threat and rival than Israel and Saudi Arabia may be playing up Israel's role in thwarting Iran so as to hide the Saudi role in doing so.

The revelation that Saudi Arabia would go nuclear if Iran tests its own nuclear weapon is the latest indication that Saudi Arabia is involved in efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Citing an unidentified Saudi Arabian source, the Times newspaper in the U.K. (which operates behind a paywall) said that the kingdom would seek to buy ready-made warheads and also begin its own program to enrich weapons-grade uranium.

The paper suggested that Pakistan was the country most likely to supply Saudi Arabia with weapons, saying Western officials were convinced there was an understanding between the countries to do so if the security situation in the Persian Gulf gets worse. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have denied such an arrangement exists.

Iran, which follows the Shiite branch of Islam, and Sunni Saudi Arabia are major regional rivals.
While it might be convenient to paint Israel as the impediment to peace in the region, the fact is that Arab and Persian regional animosities and ambitions are as much a factor as the Arab-Israeli conflict. Even if Israel didn't exist, Saudi Arabia and Iran would be engaging in their own arms race for regional supremacy.

Israel's nuclear program, which has never been officially declared by the Israeli government, isn't the destabilizing element in the region, but an Iranian nuclear program is - primarily because the Iranian leadership may not be constrained by the longstanding belief that mutually assured destruction (MAD) would keep nuclear-armed parties from going to war with nuclear weapons because they would not want to see their own countries obliterated in a nuclear exchange. If religious beliefs trump rational action and the Iranian leadership seeks a nuclear confrontation to achieve religious domination over its foes, it might see those killed within Iran as martyrs for the cause and accept casualties that might otherwise keep the weapons locked tight.

The reports also indicate that there is a tightening axis between Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani government to the point where they consider the two countries as one:
Ambassador Mohammed Naeem Khan was quoted as saying that "each Pakistani considers (the) security of Saudi Arabia as his personal matter." Naeem also said that the Saudi leadership considered Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to be one country.
It also raises serious questions about Pakistan's ongoing role in nuclear weapons and technology proliferation and its ongoing role in spreading nuclear technologies around the world. That's a role that began with the AQ Khan network, but which appears to be continuing to this day.

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