THE ARAB BOMB….Via Atrios, the Guardian is reporting that Saudi Arabia is considering the acquisition of nuclear weapons:

A strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh sets out three options:

  • To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent;

  • To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection;

  • To try to reach a regional agreement on having a nuclear-free Middle East.

….United Nations officials and nuclear arms analysts said the Saudi review reflected profound insecurities generated by the volatility in the Middle East, Riyadh’s estrangement with Washington and the weakening of its reliance on the US nuclear umbrella.

….Arab countries yesterday urged the International Atomic Energy Authority, the UN nuclear watchdog, to get tough with Israel to let inspectors assess its nuclear programme in line with similar pressure on Iran.

Saudi Arabia may have sound reasons for feeling that their relationship with the U.S. is on shaky ground, but something tells me the final paragraph tells the real story here. After all, the only likely sellers of nuclear warheads are Pakistan and China, and it’s hard to believe that either one would risk obliterating their relationship with the U.S. by talking to the Saudis about this.

On the other hand, given the worsening of the Israeli/Palestinian war in recent months, this leak may seem to the Saudis like a sensible way of firing a shot across the bow about U.S. support for Ariel Sharon. After all, the Arab states have always been annoyed that Washington pressures them endlessly about WMDs while winking at Israel’s well known stock of nuclear weapons. Perhaps they’ve decided to become a little more vocal about it.

Anyway, I’m in an optimistic mood this morning so that’s what I think. Tomorrow might be another story. Stay tuned.