Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki Al-Faisal has warned that if Iran breaks the recent nuclear deal brokered by the Obama Administration and moves to acquire nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia may react by acquiring its own nuclear weapons.
While speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Prince said,
“All options” would be on the table if Iran moves toward a bomb, “including the acquisitions of nuclear weapons, to face whatever eventuality might come from Iran.”
Saudi Arabia and Iran two powerful oil exporters based in the Middle East don’t see eye to eye on many issues.
The Saudis consider themselves leaders of the Sunni Muslim sphere of countries in the Middle East, while the Iranians consider themselves leaders of the Shia sphere.
There have been lots of proxy wars between both sides, for example, the war in Yemen where both powers are supporting different sides, and the war in Syria where Iran is supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad with its Revolutionary Guards and Hizbollah; while Saudi is supporting largely Sunni rebel forces that are fighting to kick Assad out of office.
So, there is no love lost between the two countries. The Saudis think US President Obama has been too soft on the Iranian nuclear issue, and hope that in November a new US president will take a harder line on the issue.
US Republican candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised the deal and said recently to the Washington Post that if elected President, one of the things he would do would be to tear up the deal. In an interview with CNN last July, he suggested that as POTUS he would ramp up sanctions on Iran instead to force them to make more commitments not to develop nuclear weapons.
And even though Hillary Clinton has thrown her weight behind the Obama deal with Iran, she has done so with caveats.
Meanwhile, a former Isreali military official who also spoke at the institute, Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, said Isreal will never allow Iran to acquire the nuclear bomb.
In reality, any nuclear attack by one Middle Eastern country against another is likely to be a phyric victory because with the close distance between all of them, even the attacking country is likely to suffer from radioactive winds in the event of such a hypothetical attack.
It would seem that any government that would try to get nukes in the region would be doing so mainly to score psychological warfare points, and for little else.
But the threat still remains that some organizations may seek to take control of such weapons from governments that possess it, to use the weapons against other countries in the region that they perceive are enemies, not minding the implications.
When it comes to the Middle East, the major fault lines are the divisions between the Jewish state of Isreal and the Muslim mainly Arab countries on the one hand; and the division between the Sunni Muslim countries and the Shia sphere led by Iran on the other. Wars have been fought
Wars have been fought across these divides, and whenever one is fought, it has the potential to impact the international price of oil, indirectly impacting in a significant way the economies of even nations that leave far far away.