A few observations: First, whether or not Israel has the bomb is immaterial. After repeated drubbings by Israel in conflicts with conventional weapons, other nations in the region would naturally search for any advantage they can get. Nuclear capability of any kind is a source of leverage, a flexing of muscle.
On to the Iranian aspect: The ongoing coddling of Iran with regard to its nuclear program is leading to an arms race with a sectarian twist: There will be pressure to answer a Shi’ite bomb in the Gulf region with a Sunni bomb.
An arms race would be bad enough among stable states run by rational people. Both the Saudi and Iranian regimes ultimately rule by force, and therein lies an inherent instability. Add to it factions within the regimes — military, clerics, Saudi royals or the civilian political establishment in Iran — and the myriad official and unofficial channels for funneling weapons to groups like Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad, and the potential for disaster from a nuclear race in the Gulf quickly snowballs. Nonetheless, the Saudi program is officially described as being “not of concern” below. Not now, at least.
“‘Saudi Arabia planning nuclear plant’,” by Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz for the Jerusalem Post, August 20:
With the world seemingly unable to stop Iran’s nuclear march, other countries in the region are now pushing forward with their own plans to build nuclear power plants.
The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported on Thursday that the Saudi minister of water and electricity, Abdullah al-Hosain, said the kingdom was working on plans for its first nuclear power plant. The US inked civil nuclear power deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year.
Israel had no official response to the Saudi minister’s announcement.
Over the last two years, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE, Yemen, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt have all indicated an interest in developing nuclear programs, with Israeli officials saying, off the record, that if these countries did not want the programs now for their military capabilities, they wanted the technology in place to keep “other options open” if Iran were to develop a bomb. […]
“The Saudis are genuinely scared of what will happen if Iran turns nuclear,” one official said. “This is part of their response.”
On the other hand, the officials said that Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program was not of concern at the moment for Israel since the project was being established jointly with the United States and in the framework of International Atomic Energy Agency regulations.
Israeli defense officials have warned for several years that one potential outcome of Iran’s success in defying the international community and establishing a nuclear program would be that other countries in the Middle East would follow suit.