Michael Totten

The Saudis Will Want the Bomb, Too

It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia will want nuclear weapons if Iran gets them. Riyadh has been saying so for years and said it again a couple of days ago.

It ought to go without saying that this would be bad. The Middle East is one of the most conflict-prone places on earth. The inhabitants of that region aren’t exaclty known for morality and restaint when they set to killing each other. A nuclear war would be horrific not only in its human costs, but for the rest of us, too, since that region is where so much of our energy comes from. Imagine the worldwide repurcussions if millions of people are killed all at once and gas costs suddenly costs 50 dollars a gallon. I wouldn’t say that’s a likely event if both Iran and Saudi Arabia are bristling with nuclear warheads, but it’s possible and certainly more likely than a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

There’s another interesting angle here, though, that hardly anyone seems to notice. Israel is supposedly the mortal enemy of the Arabs. Right? So how come no Arab state bothered getting nuclear weapons after Israel acquired the bomb? Either the Arab war against Israel is less serious than the conventional wisdom would have it, the Arab-Persian conflict is more serious than the conventional wisdom would have it, or both.