One of the major differences between contending with the nuclear-armed USSR and a potentially nuclear-armed Iran is that the latter nation’s ideology includes an inordinate enthusiasm for hastening the apocalypse, and the coming of the Mahdi, whom Iran’s religious establishment recognizes as the Twelfth Imam, and successor to Muhammad and Ali.
As if that were not troubling enough, a potential consequence of Iran’s harnessing of nuclear weapons may be a Saudi effort to do the same, resulting in a Sunni-Shi’ite arms race, not to mention two countries that would have Israel in their nuclear cross-hairs. Those regimes will not likely care who the fallout makes into “martyrs,” as its consequences would not stop at the borders of the target country.
“Never mind Iran, is Saudi Arabia about to acquire a nuclear bomb?” by Michael Burleigh for the Daily Mail, February 24 (thanks to Twostellas):
Both Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council maintain that they want a WMD-free Middle East. However, key members of the Saudi royal elite have recently signalled that if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, then Saudi Arabia will get one too.
Speaking of signalling, they have also long indicated that if Israel were to overfly the desert kingdom to bomb Iranian nuclear sites, they would temporarily turn their radars off.
But Israel would bear almost all of the risks and consequences.
Saudi Arabia has signed nuclear technology agreements with several states: China,
France, Argentina and South Korea, in order to address its need for research reactors, nuclear power plants and so forth. The latter will help slow domestic oil consumption, while boosting the amount of oil available for export. China alone is going to help build sixteen nuclear reactors.
Then there is the matter of delivery systems. The Saudi Air Force could adapt its fighter jets (Typhoons and F15s) to carry nuclear warheads. The Kingdom is also seeking to replace its existing Chinese CSS-2 medium range missiles with the more accurate Donfeng-21, which is launched from mobile trailers.
These weapons are already targeted on Iran’s major cities, notably Tehran, home to a fifth of the entire population. It is worth noting too that Russia decided not to supply Iran with $800 million worth of S-300 PMU missiles, one of the most advanced anti-ballistic missile defence systems.
Unsurprisingly, many US politicians are extremely worried about a Saudi bomb. As in the case of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia had what one might call ‘fluid’ ties to Islamist terrorists.
It is also pursuing its own anti-Iranian agenda in both Syria and neighbouring Bahrain.
The more Iran presses ahead with its semi-concealed nuclear projects – and they have just been highly uncooperative with the latest wave of IAEA inspectors – the more other countries in the region will seek to go down the same path.
This is also a useful reminder that it is not only Israel that is worried about an Iranian nuclear bomb.