The Guardian says with its out-loud voice what has been conventional wisdom for some time, that is, the Saudis will want nuclear weapons when the Iranians get theirs.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington, warned senior Nato military officials that the existence of such a device "would compel Saudi Arabia … to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences".
While that warning has a National Lampoonish quality to it—do something or we go nuclear—based on Saudi statements, there’s little doubt about what will happen.
"We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don’t. It’s as simple as that," the official said. "If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit."
So it would appear an Iranian nuclear weapon would cause the Middle East collapse of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Would a U.S. president follow an Iranian nuclear attack on Riyadh with a U.S nuclear attack on Tehran (which, sans missile defense, might lead to an attack on New York or Washington DC or even international condemnation)? I don’t think so either…
In the past the Saudis had spoken of getting underneath the Pakistani nuclear umbrella. It now seems they’ve thought better of that, which given Pakistani instability and the still-fresh threat of more Arab ‘springs’ (the season, not the water source) might seem more likely to ensure the Saudi
regime’s royal family’s survival.
And it is possible that at this point, the Saudis are just trying to rally the international troops.
Analysts said that Turki’s words about developing nuclear arms may have been intended to focus western attention on Saudi concerns about their regional rival rather than to indicate any kind of definite decision by Riyadh because the practical and diplomatic obstacles of doing so would be immense.
However, should the rally-the-world effort fail, I’d expect the Saudis would be willing to pay the ‘practical and diplomatic’ costs in order to ensure a continuation of the current state of affairs. Desperate acts for desperate men and all that.
The situation drives two words to the forefront of the mind: hydraulic fracking.