While the kingdom’s quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran’s atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.
Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.
Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”
Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, “we will get nuclear weapons”, the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions. bbc news
The Saudis are obviously fed up with the Americans under Obama screwing the pooch on pretty much everything Middle East related. They don’t believe for a minute that the Americans, Russians and Europeans will do SFA about Iran’s nuclear weapons so now they are quite happy to call the marker from Pakistan and get their own bombs.
Now, there is no doubt at all that Israel can selectively hit Iran with tactical nukes. The Pakistani bombs, made 300% better with tritium, would not be as discrete. And the Saudis not only see Iran as a threat, they also see Shi’ites as apostates and really, really hate them.
I don’t want to see any bombs going off in Iran; but if I was Iranian I would much prefer the threat of an Israeli strike on nuclear production facilities than a Saudi eruption against population centers using strategic rather than tactical weapons.
I have little time for the Saudis but their intelligence chief, Bandar bin Sultan, is well aware of the utter dysfunction Obama and Kerry and Clinton and Powers and their like have brought to US Foreign policy. And so, without too much hoo-hoo he is acting for the Kingdom.
It will be interesting if Saudi Arabia turns out to be a better Israeli ally than the US; but that is how it is looking at the moment.