Saudi Arabia Considers Nuclear Weapons After Iran’s Geneva Deal

Saudi Arabia eyes its nuclear options after the deal with Iran leaves it feeling vulnerable

  • Share
  • Read Later

Like TIME on Facebook for more breaking news and current events from around the globe!

Phil Noble / Reuters

Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz in London in 2011

As Middle Eastern nations attempted to elbow one another aside in their efforts to offer encouraging statements about the recently concluded nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers on Sunday, Saudi Arabia took its time. More than a day later the Cabinet offered its own pallid take: “If there is goodwill, then this agreement could represent a preliminary step toward a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear program.” Behind the gritted-teeth delivery there lurked an almost palpable sense of frustration, betrayal and impotence as Saudi Arabia watched its foremost foe gain ground in a 34-year competition for influence in the region.

As discussions leading up to the historic agreement in Geneva unfurled over the past several months, Saudi did its utmost to express its discontent, lobbying behind closed doors for greater restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and rejecting at the last minute a long-sought seat on the U.N. Security Council. Saudi officials even threatened to get their own nuclear weapons; just before the talks concluded the Saudi ambassador to the U.K., Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, told the Times of London: “We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region.”

(MOREIranians Celebrate Nuclear Deal)

“It’s as if Saudi Arabia and Iran suddenly traded places,” marvels Riyadh- and Istanbul-based Saudi foreign-affairs commentator Abdullah al-Shamri. “Now [U.S. President] Obama and [Iranian President] Rouhani are talking on the phone while their Foreign Ministers shake hands, and it’s Saudi Arabia that is throwing the temper tantrums at the U.N., shouting about nuclear weapons and trying to show the world that they are angry.”

Saudi Arabia’s frustration with the Iranian deal has little to do with nuclear weapons, and everything to do with insecurity, says F. Gregory Gause III, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the University of Vermont. “It comes from a profound and exaggerated fear that a nuclear deal with Iran is a prelude to an American-Iranian geopolitical agreement that in essence leaves Iran as the dominant power in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.” The U.S., of course, is unlikely to turn the keys to the region over to Iran anytime soon, but the Saudis are not entirely wrong in thinking the Obama Administration wants to disengage from the region, says Gause. The U.S. “backed off in Syria, it’s not taking an active role in Iraq, and it does want better relations with Iran.” From this, he says, the Saudis have pieced together a convincing narrative of abandonment that is causing them to lash out in unpredictable ways.

As the first round of nuclear talks got under way on Nov. 7 in Geneva, select leaks to the Western media suggested that Saudi Arabia was planning to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan. A month before, former Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got a bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”

(MORENot Everyone’s Happy: Hardliners in Iran Criticize Geneva Nuclear Deal)

There may be truth to Yadlin’s comments. Saudi Arabia has backed and at times helped fund Pakistan’s nuclear program, according to proliferation experts. (The program became public in 1998.) That doesn’t mean that acquiring a nuclear bomb is as easy as shipping it across the Arabian Sea. Saudi, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, would risk global reproach, possible sanctions and the launch of a regional arms race if it had its own bomb. A more likely scenario, says Gary Samore, Obama’s former arms-control adviser and director for research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, would be some sort of pact that could see Pakistani nuclear weapons moved to Saudi Arabia. “Even if U.S. diplomacy fails and Iran gets nuclear weapons, Pakistan isn’t just going to hand over nuclear weapons; it’s more likely that Pakistan would station forces in Saudi, and those forces will have the ability to deploy nuclear weapons from Saudi soil” — much like American troops are able to do in Europe, without contravening those country’s nonproliferation treaties.

Still, such a pact would have significant drawbacks, points out Gause. Pakistan may not be willing to attack its neighbor Iran for fear of repercussions, and it would be a death knell for the U.S.-Saudi friendship. “In terms of putting at risk relations with the United States, a Pakistani nuclear pact would be the most provocative Saudi foreign policy decision since the 1973 oil embargo,” says Gause. That might serve Saudi pique at being sidelined by its old ally America as that ally pursues a lasting deal with Iran, but it would ultimately be self-defeating. Better for Saudi in the long run would be a deal that brings Iran closer to the U.S., and further from a bomb.

MOREConservative Saudi Arabia Is Becoming a Hotbed for Amphetamines

53 comments
MuhammadNaIya
MuhammadNaIya

Sure enough if the Saudis truly need nuckear weapons they don't have to fret about it. Their ally PM Natenyahu could supply them whatever they need to counter whatever the Iranians may develop and surely Uncle Sam will either see nor allow one to talk about it since the Isreli nuclear programme is off redords and out-of-bounds to the IAEA and the UNSC

Tiger-Pi
Tiger-Pi

The world must enforce a total freeze on nuclear weapons and disallow nukes  anywhere in the highly sensitive  West Asian region. We cannot have  world peace when Pakistan, Iran,Israel and Saudi Arabia  all have their   thumbs on nuclear triggers and threaten nuclear blackmail. The US President has to show statesmanship, responsibility and intellect and  stop playing one West Asian nation against the other based on  CIA  evaluations or Rand  reports from 'scholars'.  Nuclear proliferation must be stopped immediately. The only  sane alternative is to have a universal nuke ban and demobilization-dismantling of all nuclear weapons.   Chain up 'the Dogs of War'.  

DeanJackson
DeanJackson

In fact, bad blood between Saudi Arabia and Iran (and other Sunni nations and Iran) is manufactured, what Soviet strategists call the "Scissors Strategy", or we in the West call the "Good Cop/Bad Cop" routine. This strategy is used to obtain economic aid or military hardware from the West under the pretense of a false threat, otherwise no such aid would come from the West.

For those of you not in the know, Iran has had operational intermediate-range nuclear weapons since February 1992. Where did Iran get them from? Where do you think:

"In late 1991, only months after Kazakhstan had become 'independent', and during the period of maximum 

confusion in the West over the nature of the 'changes' ostensibly taking place in the 'former' USSR, Iran purchased its first operational nuclear weapons, primarily from Kazakhstan. Iranian intelligence agents brought the weapons and related materials via Turkestan, and 'ex'-Soviet experts were brought in as troubleshooters. By the end of January 1992, the operational status of the weapons had been confirmed. At roughly the same time, Iran acquired parts for the Soviet aerial nuclear gravity bomb from 'former' Soviet military depots in the Turkestan Military District and Tajikistan, where key details of the purchase were apparently negotiated. Iran is also believed to possess a nuclear artillery shell of 0.1 kiloton yield, which was offered to Iran by Kazakhstan during negotiations in the region for the other nuclear devices. [Sources: The Grand Strategy of Iran', Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, US Congress, Washington DC, in 'Global Affairs', Fall issue, 1993; 'Security Affairs', published by Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs [JINSA], Washington DC, June 1992, citing a 1992 report by the Task Force). The deception related to the channelling of this Soviet nuclear weapons technology via newly 'independent' 'ex'-Soviet Republics -leaving Russia, as the continuing signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, with 'clean hands' in the matter." -- Editor's Note, "The Perestroika Deception", by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn (1995).

and

Google the October 27,  2011 Washington Times article: 'KAHLILI: Iran already has nuclear weapons: Western intelligence has known it for years'

Here's a portion of the Washington Times article:

"The pressure the United States and the West is bringing to bear on Iran to keep it from acquiring nuclear weapons is all for naught. Not only does the Islamic Republic already have nuclear weapons from the old Soviet Union, but it has enough enriched uranium for more. What’s worse, it has a delivery system.

The West for nearly a decade has worried about Iran’s uranium enhancement, believing Iran is working on a nuclear bomb, though the government maintains its uranium is only for peaceful purposes.

When Iran began its nuclear program in the mid-1980s, I was working as a spy for the CIA within the Revolutionary Guards. The Guards‘ intelligence at that time had learned of Saddam Hussein’s attempt to buy a nuclear bomb for Iraq. Guard commanders concluded that they needed a nuclear bomb because if Saddam were to get his own, he would use it against Iran. At that time, the two countries were at war..."




AjaxLessome
AjaxLessome

Once upon a time Saudi Arabia and the US saw eye to eye on just about everything in the Middle East except Israel. Now Saudi officials can barely contain their anger at what they see is “disorganized” and misguided US policy toward the region. The Obama administration sees an opportunity in reaching out to Iran, to put the Middle East on a more peaceful path, and perhaps it is so. But Washington is risking relationships with America’s two strongest Middle Eastern allies, two decades-old friendships. We could look back on these days as the time when the US and Saudi policies in the Middle East began turning in different directions.

YehudaElyada
YehudaElyada

Nuclear arsenal is not the aim, but the means to achieve a strategic breakthrough for Iran: revival of the historical Persian dominance in the Middle-East. The plan is to establish a new Shia emirate centered in Teheran that controls the Mesopotamian arc, from the shores of the Arab gulf to the Mediterranean, spanning Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This Shia-belt will separate the Muslim lands into two blocks, north-east vs. south-west. An Ayatollahs' controlled territorial wedge between Saudi-Arabia, Egypt and North-Africa on one side, and Turkey, Central Asian Muslim countries and Afghanistan on the other side, is the real geopolitical nightmare to be prevented by being uncompromising over the Iranian nuclear weapon program. Once Iran becomes immune from military pressures, the way ahead is a predictable slippery-slop to a foregone conclusion: an unsolvable confrontation between the conservative, money-crazed Sunni-fundamentalist Arab Klepto-regimes and a radical Jihad-crazed Shia-fundamentalist Iranian proto-empire. The confrontation is reminiscence of the 20th century Cold War across the Iron Curtain in Europe. The only difference: this time confirmed murderers will face their ilk with their fingers on the triggers. 

HüseyinÜgüdür
HüseyinÜgüdür

This, Iran and Saudi Arabia extra (USA) are you kidding? Or rather, they are not the servants of Allah plenty of forgiveness? "Almost 600 years have fought" You think this is a stupid, right?

db4490
db4490

Evidently this region has a lot of unstable people, and these people reproduce.  Let's do the rest of the world a favor and get them all to eradicate each other with some nukes.  This way the world will be a happier, genetically cleaner (except for Kentucky) place.  

usbworks
usbworks

Saudi Arabia lost any influence it had on September 11th. No one loves them and no one respects them.

kirklazarus19
kirklazarus19

More than likely Saudi was given US nukes a few months back, they also bought several from Pakistan or at least claimed to have. Saudi is the most likely country to use nuclear weapons on foreign nations and this is evidenced by the fact that the majority of the 911 perpetrators were Saudi national's, as well as were more than a few other successful terrorists. Plus they know if they attack us we'll randomly attack any other foreign nation other than Saudi Arabia.

rnconsta
rnconsta

If Iran is let out of the box, then Iranian oil will once again hit the market and the price of Saudi oil and American oil will drop.  The current price fixing in world wide oil markets will be dealt a blow.  It is no surprise that the Saudis along with their American billionaire counterparts are not happy with a deal; with Iran,

     It should be noted that American oil money, the Koch Brothers being one example, is the financial muscle  behind The Tea Party/Republican Party.    Oil and Gas  pull the strings.  For this reason alone, expect criticism  of this initiative from the American Right wing.  They will attack ANYTHING that that will cost them money or compromise their power. 

Icansee4miles
Icansee4miles

Saudi Arabia has nuclear weapons, bought and paid for, stored in Pakistan for immediate use.  Too late!!  But Saudi Arabia won't need them; Israel will take care of Iran, with a wink and a nod from Saudi Arabia to overfly their airspace.  All predicted in Amazon Kindle's new thriller, The Bahrain Protocol; and there are no good endings.  

RobertHussein
RobertHussein

The world should not be worried whether Saudi Arabia gets a nuclear weapon or not , but it should be worried about the tsunami of the Arab spring that it is sooner or late going to hit the Saud shore, and no one even the Mosad can stop it. Mosad failed the Shah of Iran, and it will fail too the king of Saudi Arabia    

MarcusTaylor
MarcusTaylor

Wait, didn't most of the 9-11 Terrorists come from Saudi Arabia?  Just asking .... (do we really want them to have nukes?)

billorights
billorights

No mention of Qatar.

I suspect that Qatar is the biggest thing on KSA's mind these days...perhaps the reason they would like to keep the U.S. at arm's length.

bobajoul
bobajoul

Let's see, the country that financed the terrorism and the attack against us in 2001, financed Osama, possibly the Muslim bomb in Pakistan and has attacked our economy with oil for 40 years.  Hmmmm, why do we care deeply what they think?  Maybe it is time to reduce our tight alliance with Saudi Arabia.  Let them fight their wars for a change and see what war is really like.  Then they can spend their money on things like security for themselves.   

it is only saber rattling if you have a saber, the Saudi's have money and nothing else.  Money will not buy people dying for their causes.  And nowhere have I seen the US back off from Israel's security.  Netanyahoo is just a right wing blowhard who provokes the Palestinians for internal political concerns, all the while refusing to deal realistically with the elephant in their room- a rapidly growing Palestinian population within their borders.  

Time to let this region deal with its own problems without our young men and women's lives and our military dollars.   We quit playing schoolyard cop and maybe they will deal with their own issues a bit more realistically. 

MalcolmRonaldDavis
MalcolmRonaldDavis

Interesting thought - if Saudi were to allow Pakistan to deploy its own nuclear forces on Saudi soil, then this complicates India's strategic environment significantly. Suddenly, in any conflict between India and Pakistan, India faces the prospect of Pakistani nuclear forces in Saudi launching attacks against India - and thus demands an Indian willingness to target those forces. Whilst it seems likely that Pakistani nuclear forces in Saudi would be under 'dual key' control, in fact they are Pakistani nuclear weapons and Islamabad would ultimately have control over whether they were or were not launched and against which targets. Furthermore, a logical place for the Pakistanis to deploy their forces would be the Saudi oil fields. This would deter India from striking them - knowing that in doing so an Indian nuclear attack against Pakistani nuclear forces deployed in Saudi oil fields would irradiate these fields, cutting off much of the world's crude oil supplies. The Indian's won't like this at all - it provides Pakistani nuclear forces a form of sanctuary. Their possible response - arm the Iranians? Just speculation of course, but worth thinking about.

cannibalofthetrees
cannibalofthetrees

The conclusion of this article assumes American dominance into the future. It seems fairly obvious that that is not going to be the case. America has become a has been. No country in their right mind would make forward looking decisions based on current American dominance. It would be a fool's bet.

AsISeeIt
AsISeeIt

This rhetoric reminds me of Prime Minister Chamberlain coming back from his historic meeting with Adolf Hitler, and as the PM came off the plane he stated, so full of himself, that he had an agreement with Hitler that there would be no war.  If you look at who our current President and Secretary of State are, do you not see the personality similarities with Chamberlain and his political position?  History repeats itself because we are always dealing with the human being.  Things are about to get interesting, the plot thickens.

quikev08
quikev08

The Saudis and the UAE have approved plans to build 7 nuclear-powered generators in the next decade. After they're running, and producing spent fuel that could be concentrated into weapons grade plutonium, the regional  'threat' level increases.

goerizal
goerizal

very smart saudis. with one very inexpensive verbal threat they maybe able to persuade israel to go and bomb the iranian nuclear industry to dust or at least attempt to do so. if israel is successful the saudis will no longer feel the need to be equally nuclear with the iranians. the US may cluck its tongue, shakes its head and make sounds of deep regrets but in the end will still support israel fully in a shooting war. it has no choice really. the saudis may even pitch in for israel - secretly as usual so there will be no need to deny anything. if things go bad they can always blame it on obama for being faithless and almost traitorious to longtime proven allies. then at the end they could just go silently nuclear causing significant insecurity on israel if it still exist.

langhamk
langhamk

Israel must know that their are powers here to fight for them to the end. Enough said. We will tolerate wrong but we will not live in wrong. This country is wrong. Enough said. The time draws near because this government wants collapse. Frankly we welcome it as well. Divorce America.  Ireael suffers ... we suffer.

CrossWinds
CrossWinds

Joel 3:9-11......

9 Proclaim this among the nations:
“Prepare for war!
Wake up the mighty men,
Let all the men of war draw near,
Let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”
11 Assemble and come, all you nations,
And gather together all around.
Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord.

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

For all that huffing and puffing, the Saudis cannot organize a piss-up in a brewary! Everything in SA is done by non-Saudis. Imagine, a Nuclear armed SA incapable of using a weapon! Then, SA asking their Jihadis in Pakistan to help would give a perfect excuse for the US to bomb the hell out of Pakistan! All this is very childish. The reality is that, rightly, the US considers a relationship with Iran to be strategic in the region and Petrodollars will not alter this. Remove Oil and the Saudis have just one industry... Mecca. They earn Billions when Pilgrims visit each year.Wake up Saudis, your days of threatening the west through Oil power are gone!

Beersheva
Beersheva

Saudi Arabia is America's ally only because of oil. Otherwise, they could one of the worst allies you can have. Now that energy independence may be within reach through shale oil and gas, it is no wonder that the US is leaning back from this relationship.

ForgetJournalism
ForgetJournalism

A quote, since described by Abdulazziz as out of context, and a position that is contrary to the public statements of KSA, without any further corroborating material has passed the editor's muster as journalism.  

If it was not for the courage and integrity of people like Greenwald, we would all be slaves to this kind of so-called journalism!

It is no wonder that most mainstream journals like the Time are struggling with readership.  Those who can read critically don't care about reading the Time, and those who can't read critically don't read the Time.  

AminSan
AminSan

The sad part is that the Saudis know they can do nothing. They can buy off anyone and yet with all that money, people don't buy in to them. The king is getting old and when the next fight starts it will be inside the Saudi family.

Curly4
Curly4

It appears that Obama may have traded short term gain for a long term loose. But he did need a distraction form the ACA debacle. He may have delayed Iran getting nuclear weapons for a few months but, I thing, insures that Iran will have them. This agreement will give the Iranians the means to get the triggering mechanism needed and they they can enrich the uranium to weapons grade in no time. 

Now this may make Saudi Arabia  to seek to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. I would also say that Saudi Arabia would rather that Israel have nuclear weapons than Iran if it had a choice. 

itnomatter
itnomatter

Fifteen of the 9/11 High-jackers were from Saudi Arabia and now they want the Bomb.  But Iran is still the bad guy? 

BoscoPereira
BoscoPereira

@Tiger-Pi 

It doesn't matter, If India and Pakistan could have them for years with no holocaust to date. Iran, Israel and Saud can do the same. Its only posturizing no one has the guts for anything more.

SardarAbdul
SardarAbdul

@usbworks Everyone loves Saudi Arab. don't forget the two holy Cities of Muslims are in Saudi. Iran don't have balls to attack otherwise have to face whole Muslim nations even iranian common man will be against this 

MaryamHooshmand
MaryamHooshmand

@rnconsta so right. I don't know what they think , but if world powers dont let Iran get nuclear weapons, what makes Saudi think they get permission to do so, knowing that Arabs are hot blooded and kill for nothing! look at Syria! Arabs are wild!

Mister_Common_Sense
Mister_Common_Sense

@Icansee4miles 

Israel doesn't have the military capacity to take care of Iran. Otherwise, Israel would have dealt with Iran a long time ago.

Icansee4miles
Icansee4miles

@MarcusTaylor Hezbollah is in Mexico, and will have access to Truck Driven nukes; you're looking in the wrong direction.  Remember the Marine Barracks in Lebanon?  That was Hezbollah with a truck bomb during Reagan's time.  Imagine what a nuke would do to a U.S. city!!

Realworldnonfantasyland
Realworldnonfantasyland

@bobajoul We played schoolyard cop with Korea, South Korea has done decent snce, North Korea took their issues realistically.  Unfortunately there are different fairy tales going on in different countries, Some day Americans will step outside the best bubble in the history of the world and realize that what we do is helping others as well. 

zelskid1
zelskid1

@MalcolmRonaldDavis This is getting confusing. My head is spinning. But I do know that the more nations with nukes. the higher the danger

MarcusTaylor
MarcusTaylor

@cannibalofthetrees  My brother and my son speak, read and write Mandarin and Cantonese ... they have "read" the writing on the wall ... and so have I. (Rosetta Stone here I come)

MarcusTaylor
MarcusTaylor

@AsISeeIt So is FORD and the Bush family going to supply Iran with the same materials they provided Hitler?

MarcusTaylor
MarcusTaylor

@goerizal Anyone who thinks Israel has a "snowballs chance" in attacking Iran is delusional.  Any attack is an impossibility due to several insurmountable conditions. First they would have to get U.S. permission to do a fly-over of Iraq or permission from Jordan, and that won't happen, their jets would be shot down. 

Secondly, Israel doesn't have the equipment to re-fuel their Jets/Bombers and mount an attack on Iran's Nuclear Sites ... IT WOULD BE A ONE-WAY TRIP ... A SUICIDE MISSION and they would have to dodge Soviet Ground-to-Air Missiles in the bargain just to get to ONE site.

Next they would have to be in a position to contend with the astronomical increase in the price of oil and the economic disaster that would befall every nation on the planet as a result of their actions.  The Worlds Stock Markets would TANK OVERNIGHT!  Do you think China or Russia or Pakistan or India or even America would allow that to happen to the world's delicate economies. They would be a nation of pariahs treated as lepers by the rest of the world and Israel, as a nation, could not survive if they were not destroyed "out-of-hand".  

 People can talk all they want but everyone knows that the world will not allow Israel to drag it into WWIII. 

quikev08
quikev08

@goerizal And you don't trhink that, absent the vile mede, they wouldn't feel a threat from an ascendant Yisroel? 

They're sitting on the biblical 'Land of Sheba'.

Mr.Stark
Mr.Stark

@Curly4 Agreed. Obama's deal is giving the world the impression that we are setting a precedent of not intervening in the proliferation of nuclearized states.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@itnomatter Neither one of them can be trusted.  Saudi Arabia uses us but hates us too. Iran hates us but needs us for the moment. Obama is a moron with a ,major ego, which is normal for the POTUS. They all have something in common, Muslims and there lies the Problem, no one can nor should trust a muslim..

AliRazeghi
AliRazeghi

@itnomatter Very good point.  As the 9-11 commission showed, the Saudi Foreign minister Prince Bandar was directly involved with financing Omar al-Bayoumi, one of the 9-11 front men who signed the lease for the apartments, paid for the flight training, and the 1 way tickets for 3 of the highjackers. 

This is all on the public record.  Iran worked with the US to fight Al-Queda as they are a major destabilizing force and run most of the heroin/opium in the region, then launder their money in British banks that are friendly to narco-terrorist drug money (hey, why not, they get rich off using it as liquidity and giving themselves loans from their LIBOR scandards off it).  

Check out the declassified information showing beyond a reasonable doubt that Saudi Arabia was directly tied in the planning on 9-11, and now, they want nukes. 

*shudder*

richard.a.siegers
richard.a.siegers

@BoscoPereira @Tiger-Pi 


Only Saudi Arabia is the biggest terrorist supporting nation and that's a fact and proven.

Israel blackmails the US for many years now nukes would make it worse.

Iran just wants to defend itself from USA big-brother bullying.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@quikev08 @goerizal The religious bs is not an issue. The Saudi's are smart and their money talks and the rest them run and hide or take the money

spring12
spring12

@AliRazeghi @itnomatter the other scenario  would be both saudi's and Israleis were involved in this for one common reason. get rid of saddam. Israelis provided the technology , intelligence  and clearances while saudi provided the men. since it didn't make sense for u.s to go after saddam who had nothing to do w/ 9/11.