The U.S. is in a catch-22. Either step in, and in some sort of restricted way, help the Saudis build a nuclear program, or allow the Russians and Chinese to fill the vacuum in giving the Kingdom a path to nuclear weapons. The latter would likely mean the end of a U.S.-Saudi alliance and see relations in Riyadh shift to the Moscow-Beijing axis.
This isn’t the first bit of news regarding Saudi Arabia’s quest for nuclear weapons, either. Saudi Arabia has always seeked nuclear weapons as a hedge against Iran. In doing so under a low profile, Saudi Arabia has financed Pakistan’s nuclear program in exchange for technology transfer should the need arise to acquire them one day.
Allowing for Iran to proliferate opened the gates to Saudi proliferation, which will without a doubt, pave the way for other nations in the region to acquire. In the end, you can’t say you weren’t warned of the consequences.
More information can be found in the following previous posts:
Saudi Arabia is moving swiftly to become the next country in the Middle East with nuclear power. The Kingdom is on the verge of striking a deal with the US for the purchase of nuclear reactors despite concerns over its refusal to accept stringent restrictions against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, who is the de facto ruler of the country, has ambitious plans to diversify the country’s energy source and is in the market to purchase nuclear power reactors. The potential for lucrative deals is too good to be missed and the Trump administration is thought to be mulling over loosening US law to win Saudi contracts, worth billions. The Kingdom has refused to be bound by stringent US regulations that restrict reprocessing and enriching uranium for the production of nuclear weapons.
With competitors like Russia and China waiting in the wings, Trump is keen to strike a deal with the Saudi’s and breathe new life into the American nuclear industry.
Finalists to build nuclear power stations along the Kingdom’s desolate Arabian Gulf strip will be announced in the coming months, but it’s not certain if the US will be the one to strike the deal. Israel, despite having its own nuclear arsenal, is strongly opposed to any other country in the Middle East acquiring nuclear weapons and with alliances constantly shifting in the region it may try to derail any deal.
US policy also seeks to limit nuclear weapons proliferation especially in the Middle East but Trump may have no option other than to lower restrictions with Saudi Arabia.
Although the Saudi’s have insisted that their programme will be peaceful, they have also refused to rule out the right to enrich uranium to weapons grade. A senior Saudi official was quoted by the Wall Street Journal admitting as much. “I’m not saying Saudi would want to enrich uranium tomorrow or anytime soon but they don’t want to be committed to anything that bans them from doing it. It is quite political,” the unnamed senior official said.
His comments have stirred speculation that one of the purpose of the nuclear programme is to compete with Iran and maintain an option to develop nuclear weapons. With some overlapping technology it would be in a strong position to move in that direction if the Kingdom desired so.
Full article: US May Open Path For Saudi Arabia To Acquire Nuclear Weapons (Middle East Monitor)