Saudi Arabia: If Iran Gets the Bomb, We’ll Build Our Own
In an interview with CBS, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that if Iran successfully develops a nuclear weapon, his country will quickly pursue nukes of their own.
While bin Salman insisted that Saudi Arabia was not necessarily in the market for nuclear weapons as it stands now, a nuclear armed Iran would leave the kingdom with no choice but to protect themselves by any means available.
“Without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he said.
He told CBS that while he was concerned about Iran’s aggression, he did not consider the Islamic Republic a true threat to Saudi Arabia. “Its army is not among the top five armies in the Muslim world,” he said. “The Saudi economy is larger than the Iranian economy. Iran is far from being equal to Saudi Arabia.”
Bin Salman said that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei was nonetheless a threat to modern civilization both within and outside the country’s borders.
“He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler, who wanted to expand at the time,” bin Salman said. “Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don’t want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”
The crown prince’s remarks – particularly those about Iran’s nuclear program – come at a time when the Trump administration is very much on the fence about keeping the current nuclear agreement in place. Trump has given our European partners in the deal until May to come up with a new version of the deal, one which strengthens the role of international inspectors and removes the 10-year sunset clause on the original deal. And if there was any doubt about President Trump’s commitment to securing a new deal (or at least scrapping the old one), nominating Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State should remove it.
Pompeo, unlike Rex Tillerson, has been consistently hawkish on the subject of Iran and has frequently recommended better enforcement of the JCPOA plan.
“We need even more intrusive inspection,” he said in October. “The deal put us in a marginally better place with respect to inspection, but the Iranians have on multiple occasions been capable of presenting a continued threat through covert efforts to develop their nuclear program along multiple dimensions, right? The missile dimension, the weaponization effort, the nuclear component itself.”
With Pompeo in place as the nation’s top diplomat, it is easy to predict that the Iran nuclear agreement – in its current form – is not long for this world. Either Iran will submit to a deal more favorable to the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Middle East, or they will face another round of crippling sanctions at a time when they are already struggling to keep their population away from total upheaval. In either scenario, the Trump administration will have the upper hand once again and we can put this nasty idea of a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race behind us.