Arab Nation May be Going Nuclear
It has been conventional wisdom that Israel was the only known Middle Eastern country with nuclear weapons. Having never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Israel never confirms or denies its nuclear status. And the U.S., to avoid an embarrassing clash with its closest ally in the region, never confirms or denies Israel's nuclear arsenal as well. Until recently.
According to an expert on the Middle East, Israel may soon no longer be alone in possessing nuclear weapons in that volatile region of the globe.
But the other power with "the bomb" may not necessarily be Iran. While some countries claim Tehran is bent on becoming a nuclear-armed power – a claim Iran denies – an Arab country already is taking steps to go nuclear, says Jim Hoagland, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist, who spoke Thursday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"As a senior Arab political official who was in town recently said to a small group of us, [that] it's clear there is already activity underway on the Arab side on the development of nuclear weapons," Hoagland told a packed room at the institute's offices. Hoagland did not identify the Arab official or others in the "small group," and hastened to add that there were "no details to provide."
It is foolhardy not to recognize that there is a nuclear arms race apace in the Middle East. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and has been selling nuclear secrets to Iran and North Korea. India is acquiring a nuclear capability, and has also refused to join the Non Proliferation Treaty community. Syria recently was the target of an Israeli bombing attack to take out a purported nuclear facility. Last year, Saudi Arabia expressed interest in pursing a nuclear arms program.
If I had to speculate and identify which Arab country, I would guess Saudi Arabia because they have the money, the contacts, and the people who understand the physics and engineering behind nuclear weapons.