Following the July 14, 2015 announcement in Vienna of the Iran-P5+1 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Saudi press featured numerous articles openly calling for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to use the coming decade – the time frame of the JCPOA – to develop their own military nuclear program, against the nuclear threat that they say Iran will constitute after the agreement expires.
There have already been calls for a clandestine Saudi nuclear program to parallel Iran’s, which were backed up by official Saudi sources. For example, the month before the announcement of the JCPOA, Saudi Ambassador to the U.K. Emir Muhammad bin Nawwaf bin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Saud told the Daily Telegraph that if the upcoming nuclear agreement with Iran did not include a serious Iranian commitment to refrain from developing nuclear weapons, then as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, “all options are on the table.” He emphasized that over the years, his country had opposed the development of nuclear weapons, but that Iran’s policy on the issue “has changed the whole outlook in the region.”
Alongside these statements by Saudi officials, there have been various reports in media worldwide on Saudi intentions to establish a military nuclear program, or to acquire nuclear weapons from a third party, meaning Pakistan.
In addition, Saudi Arabia has recently taken practical steps to develop a civilian nuclear program. In recent months it has signed nuclear agreements with France, Russia,and South Korea, which include the establishment of civilian nuclear reactors in the kingdom.
Following are excerpts from articles in the Saudi press calling for the establishment of a Saudi nuclear program:
No Alternative To Nuclear Arms Race
Dr. Hashem ‘Abdu Hashem, columnist for the official Saudi daily Al-Riyadh, called on the Gulf states and Arab countries to work on two fronts – the military front, that is, immediately launching a nuclear arms race, and the diplomatic front, that is, beginning a dialogue with the superpowers and taking advantage of the prevailing atmosphere of economic interests overriding security interests. In his column, titled “There Is No Alternative To The Option Of A Nuclear Arms Race,” he wrote: “… The situation is dangerous – very dangerous – and the need to operate on all levels is increasing. There is a need for direct and transparent dialogue with the P5+1 and for working to bolster our self [defense] capabilities as a country, as a single Gulf entity, and as a homogenous Arab group that senses the same threat, thinks alike, and seeks the best guarantees for stability in its lands and for dealing jointly with this new reality.
We Must Establish Arab Nuclear Reactors To Create A Balance Of Power With Iran And Israel
In a similar vein, in his column in the official Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, Jasser ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Jasser wrote, under the headline “So We Don’t Fall Victim To The Nuclear Deception”: “… A decade from now, Iran will be able to manufacture nuclear weapons… It has the knowhow, which will surely develop in the coming decade, in addition to amassing thousands of tons of enriched uranium – which will facilitate Iran’s production of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the countries of the region, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, must prepare for that day, and work to create a scientific base and a nuclear [facility] infrastructure by establishing research reactors for producing energy, that can serve the region’s countries [in their efforts] to attain a nuclear balance [of power] with Iran or with Israel. Otherwise, only Arab countries will be targets for extortion, by both Iran and Israel.”
Saudi Arabia Must Develop A Secret Nuclear Program So That It Can Produce Nuclear Weapons In 10 Years
Al-Jazirah columnist Khaled Ibrahim Al-Hajji set out the steps that he says Saudi Arabia must take to develop a nuclear program in the coming decade: “… Training Saudi personnel in the field of nuclear energy that will produce results, as part of a known timetable [concurrent with] the term of the Iranian nuclear agreement; recruiting outstanding Saudi students for this program, along with a special staff and financial benefits in line with their scientific capabilities; establishing nuclear energy Research and Development [R&D] centers within the timeframe of the Iranian nuclear agreement; conducting clandestine scientific research in absolute secrecy to preserve national security; and recruiting nuclear physicists and scientists from around the world to work in Saudi Arabia in return for special benefits, and granting Saudi citizenship to those who desire it. The Saudi nuclear program will be ready to develop and produce nuclear weapons that will deter Iran’s nuclear program once its agreement with the superpowers expires…”
Full article: Saudi Press: We Must Have A Military Nuclear Program Within A Decade (MEMRI)