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Will Saudi Arabia Acquire Nuclear Weapons?

Kate Amlin

Monterey Institute of International Studies

Rumors of Saudi Nuclear Weapons Development Rumors of Saudi Nuclear Weapons Development
King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, www.kingfahdbinabdulaziz.com

Introduction

Since the mid-1990s, media reports have periodically alleged that Saudi Arabia is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. Such rumors have spread in recent years amidst speculation that the Saudis would seek such armaments in reaction to Iran developing a nuclear arsenal. This issue brief seeks to examine the accuracy of these allegations and elucidate the factors that would motivate Saudi decisions to acquire or forgo nuclear weapons.

After outlining past claims that Saudi Arabia has sought nuclear weapons, this issue brief with provide an overview of Saudi Arabia's technical capabilities related to nuclear weapons development will be given. Next, potential motivations and disincentives behind Saudi Arabia's proliferation decisions will be discussed. The issue brief will conclude by highlighting several issues that could alter Saudi Arabia's proliferation calculus in the future.

This issue brief finds that it is unlikely that Saudi Arabia would seek nuclear weapons capacity under current security and economic circumstances, due to a combined lack of technical capabilities and a desire to maintain friendly relations with other countries. However, in the event that Iran develops working nuclear weapons or the U.S.-Saudi relationship significantly deteriorates, Saudi nuclear weapons development would become more likely in the future.

To learn more about past allegations of Saudi proliferation, read the Saudi Arabia nuclear profile.

Many media reports alleging Saudi interest in nuclear proliferation cite statements given by Mohammed Khilewi, a former Saudi diplomat who defected to the United States in 1994. Khilewi shared reams of documents detailing a Saudi interest in nuclear proliferation with the U.S. government. Khilewi has since argued that Saudi officials had been working on a covert nuclear weapons research effort since 1975, motivated to build a nuclear arsenal to counter Israel, their stronger neighbor that had recently seized Arab territory in the Six-Day War of 1973. Khilewi contends that Saudi Arabia also provided financial support for the nuclear weapons programs of Pakistan and Iraq in the 1970s and 1980s, in the hopes that these countries could help protect Saudi Arabia after they had developed nuclear weapons of their own.[1] Khilewi's claims have not been substantiated in publicly available sources. Even so, more recent accounts asserting Saudi interest in a nuclear arsenal tend to use Khilewi as evidence. Such articles also cite a 2003 article published in the British newspaper The Guardian that argued Saudi officials were considering nuclear proliferation to deter regional aggression.[2] The Guardian article maintained that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are engaged in ongoing, covert cooperation over nuclear issues, as did a 2006 article appearing in the German magazine, Cicero. Again, public evidence does not support such assertions. As analysts Gina Cabrera-Farraj and Sammy Salama point out, these reports probably stem from suspicions that Saudi Arabia provides financial support for Pakistan's military, and from uncertainty regarding the agenda during visits of Saudi officials to Pakistan. These claims do not demonstrate that the countries are currently working on nuclear weapons together.[3]

Nuclear Capabilities in Saudi Arabia

Beyond investigating available evidence of Saudi intentions to develop nuclear weapons, it is imperative to examine Saudi capabilities to build nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia is generally considered to lack the natural resources, technological capability, and scientific expertise necessary to develop an advanced nuclear weapons program.[4] For instance, since Saudi Arabia does not operate nuclear power facilities, its scientists do not have experience necessary in enriching uranium for reactor fuel, in nuclear fuel conversion, or in operating nuclear reactors.[5] Saudi Arabia has recently expressed some interest in the development of peaceful nuclear energy. The Kingdom is part of a Gulf Cooperation Council initiative to develop a joint nuclear energy program.[6] Saudi officials also signed a May 2008 memorandum of understanding with the United States on nuclear energy cooperation,[7] and have discussed civil nuclear energy cooperation with France.[8]

Since Saudi Arabia does not possess the domestic capabilities to develop nuclear weapons, some nonproliferation experts worry that the country would acquire nuclear weapons by procuring them from another country. Pakistan is most frequently cited as the country from which Saudi Arabia would seek outside assistance from. Saudi Arabia might acquire weapons-usable fissile materials from Pakistan, receive training in weapons development from Pakistani scientists, or even jointly develop weapons with the country.[9] Yet nonproliferation experts who study the two countries consider this scenario unlikely. Gawdat Bahgat of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania doubts that Pakistan would be willing to sell Saudi Arabia such an armament, since Islamabad views its nuclear arsenal specifically as a counter to India.[10] Furthermore, Thomas Lippman of the Middle East Institute contends that Saudi Arabia would not willingly invite the international isolation that would result from such a purchase and risk harming the Kingdom's own political and economic relations.[11]

Analysts also speculate that, in 1986, Saudi Arabia acquired approximately 36 CSS-2 intermediate-range ballistic missiles from China in order to procure delivery systems for nuclear warheads.[12] The missiles have a high circular error probability that makes them inaccurate, since they are unable to hit targets more specific than a general neighborhood. Since they are largely inaccurate, the missiles can produce more destruction when carrying unconventional payloads. This has made some analysts frame the missile transfer as evidence that Saudi Arabia has shown interest in developing nuclear weapons.[13] However, the Chinese did modify the missiles to carry special, large conventional warheads before transferring the systems to Saudi Arabia.[14] John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org has noted that the missiles are currently armed with conventional warheads,[15] and no evidence suggests that Riyadh is attempting to use the CSS-2s to deliver weapons of mass destruction.

Examining Saudi Arabia's technical capabilities to develop nuclear weapons as a whole, it becomes clear that the Kingdom lacks the domestic resource demands and technical capabilities to build an advanced nuclear arsenal. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Saudi Arabia has purchased delivery systems to couple with nuclear warheads, or that Saudi Arabia has tried to procure nuclear weapons from foreign suppliers in the past.

Potential Motivations Behind Saudi Proliferation

Western analysts tend to refer to security considerations as the primary motivators that would drive Saudi Arabia's interest in procuring nuclear weapons. As far as publicly available evidence suggests, these concerns could serve as hypothetical justifications for the development of a Saudi nuclear arsenal, and are based on the assumption that nuclear weapons would make Saudi Arabia more powerful, deterring aggression from its rivals. Yet, neither Saudi official statements nor relevant Saudi actions confirm that these factors are presently compelling Saudi Arabia to seek a nuclear deterrent, or that such factors have previously motivated Saudi Arabia to develop nuclear weapons.

Two factors make Saudi Arabia inherently vulnerable to regional threats. First, Saudi Arabia has natural resource endowments that expose it to foreign attack. The Kingdom encompasses a vast territory of approximately two million square kilometers, making the country about 1/5th the size of the United States. Riyadh, the capital, is located in the center of Saudi Arabia, but its other major cities and economic assets are located on borders where they are more exposed to attack, mainly along bodies of water such as the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.[16] For example, many Saudi oil fields and water desalination plants are located along the Gulf coast.[17] Second, Saudi Arabia possesses twenty percent of proven global oil reserves and produces more oil than any other member of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC).[18] These large oil deposits make Saudi Arabia a crucial participant in the international energy market. Bahgat argues that these two geo-strategic characteristics make Saudi Arabia inherently vulnerable to threats made by stronger neighbors.[19]

Saudi Arabia's location in the Middle East is also mentioned as a potential motivator for it to acquire nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia is relatively weak militarily, but is situated near several strong, potential adversaries, primarily Iran and Israel. Although Saudi Arabia does not currently face any existential threats to its survival, Saudis fear encirclement by these regional adversaries. According to Richard Russell of the Naval Postgraduate School, Saudis have been particularly worried about foreign invasion since Iraq's incursion onto Kuwait territory in 1990.[20] Saudi Arabia has purchased more advanced, mobile conventional weaponry to mitigate its conventional inadequacies. Yet, despite these upgrades, Saudi Arabia's conventional military is still at a relative disadvantage compared to other countries in the region due to the small population of the Saudi Kingdom.[21] These fears were heightened after the major regional rivals of Saudi Arabia – namely Israel in the late 1950s and Iran more recently – begun to develop weapons of mass destruction.[22]

When taken together, these factors make it possible that Riyadh could decide to develop nuclear weapons to buttress itself against regional security threats. However, it is important to stress again that no publicly available evidence confirms that Saudi Arabia is actually seeking a nuclear arsenal.

Iran's Impact on Saudi Decisions

Many analysts hypothesize that Saudi Arabia would develop nuclear weapons if Iran built a working nuclear arsenal. Saudi Arabia and Iran share a history of animosity that has only intensified since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini rose to power and transformed Iran into an anti-western regime ruled by traditionalist Muslims. Since that time, the Saudis have watched the rise of Iran warily, apprehensive of Tehran's strength, regional influence, and seemingly aggressive intentions. Within Islam, Saudi Arabia and its royal family, the House of Saud, are considered to represent the capital of Sunni Islam, while the Shi'a regime in Iran sits at the center of the rising Shi'a Crescent. The Shi'a Crescent, a region of the Middle East where there is a majority or strong minority of Shi'a Muslims in the general population, expands across several countries. Saudi officials worry that the growing political influence of Shi'a populations in these areas surrounding their kingdom will become an existential threat to their own regime's survival.[23] Officials in Riyadh worry that Iran is gaining political leverage in places like Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq; and that Tehran will next threaten the physical security of the Saudi kingdom. This could even include banding together with the Shi'a populations in Eastern Saudi Arabia to challenge the authority of the Saudi regime.[24]

Saudi leaders are particularly concerned with the impact that Iran's development of nuclear weapons would have on their own country's security. Mai Yamani, a visiting fellow at the Brooking Institute's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, contends that advances in Iran's nuclear program are viewed within Saudi Arabia as physical proof of the growing Shi'a threat in the region.[25] Although Iran's nuclear intentions are presently unclear, Saudis worry that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, Saudi national security would be undermined. A nuclear-armed Iran could cause a domino of proliferation within the Middle East, or use the new weapons to augment Iranian influence in the region.[26] After interviews with mid- to high-level Saudi officials, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations staffer Bradley Bowman has concluded that Saudis are more worried of Iran using the nuclear weapons it developed to "pursue its own, more aggressive hegemonic foreign policy in the region," instead of Tehran using the weapons to attack Saudi Arabia directly.[27]

There is no evidence that Saudi leaders have already decided to build a nuclear deterrent in reaction to Iran's nuclear activities, but if Iran developed actual nuclear weapons this may change, as will be discussed below.

Saudi Perceptions of Israel

Israel is also cited as a potential motivator for Saudi nuclear proliferation, since, as a regional rival, Israel's nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities could prove threatening to Saudi Arabia.[28] Saudi leaders refuse to officially recognize Israel as a sovereign state until it withdraws from the territories it has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967.[29] Saudis perceive the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal to be major impediments to peace in the Middle East.[30] The Saudi-Israeli relationship is complicated, however, and historically Saudi Arabia has historically avoided direct confrontation with Israel. Instead, Saudi leaders have supported Arab causes against Israel by funding states such as Egypt and Syria that have directly engaged in confrontation.[31] Saudi Arabia has also backed proposals for a settlement to the Israel-Palestinian conflict that the U.S. has brokered since the early 1970s. According to Bahgat, this willingness to support a peaceful settlement indicates that Saudi Arabia would be willing to recognize Israel – if it could be done without losing Arab allies. This willingness to compromise also indicates that Israel would not be a direct motivator of Saudi nuclear proliferation.[32]

The U.S.-Saudi Strategic Partnership

Another potential motivation for Saudi proliferation is the souring of U.S.-Saudi relations, especially when such a scenario is combined with Iran's development of a nuclear arsenal. Saudi Arabia has long been a critical U.S. ally in the Middle East, and the countries share an interest in containing militant Middle Eastern regimes such as Iran and maintaining the export of Saudi oil supplies to the rest of the world.[33] The Saudis currently rely on the United States for security assurances, and would expect the United States to defend them from a regional aggressor. Yet, Riyadh has reservations about the nature of U.S. support, and worries that a divergence in national interests would prevent the United States from fully protecting Saudi Arabia in a future crisis.[34] In a notable example of this concern, U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent F-15 fighter aircraft to the Persian Gulf to protect the Saudis when war broke out between Iran and Iraq in 1980. However, Carter demonstrated that U.S. support for the Saudi kingdom had its limits when he announced that the aircraft were sent to the Gulf unarmed.[35] More recently, in 2003, the U.S. government reduced the number of forces that it had stationed in Saudi Arabia from 5,000 to 400 troops.[36] Worry that the United States would provide similarly weak support for their Kingdom in a future crisis, for instance if Iran invaded, may drive Saudi Arabia to build a nuclear arsenal to deter aggression autonomously. This scenario would become more likely in the future if Iran demonstrates a desire to build nuclear weapons, as Saudi Arabia would be vulnerable to an aggressive, stronger neighbor without the assurance of U.S. support.

Constraints on Saudi Proliferation

However, other experts on Saudi Arabia contend that the U.S.-Saudi strategic relationship currently acts as a disincentive that inhibits Saudi Arabia from developing nuclear weapons. Because Saudi Arabia depends on the United States for conventional armaments and military support during crises, Riyadh does not want to proliferate at the present time because doing so would deeply strain the U.S.-Saudi relationship, perhaps to an irrevocable degree. Analysts Cabrera-Farraj and Salama contend that the desire to maintain U.S. support makes the Saudis unwilling to proliferate in the current Middle Eastern security environment, since procuring unconventional armaments would ruin the U.S.-Saudi relationship and could mean that the United States would not help Saudi Arabia defend itself against an aggressive Iran.[37] Bahgat seconds this view, concluding that no evidence suggests that the U.S.-Saudi relationship will sour in the near future, and the United States and Saudi Arabia are likely to share common interests for many years, creating a strong reason for Saudi Arabia not to develop nuclear weapons.[38]

In a similar vein, other analysts purport that Saudi Arabia is unlikely to proliferate due to the international condemnation that the Saudi Kingdom would face after developing nuclear weapons. According to Etel Solingen, states run by leaders that are "internationalizing," or seek greater access to international markets and increased foreign investment in order to strengthen their own regime, are more likely to forgo the development of nuclear weapons. Internationalizing leaders worry that proliferating would hurt their state's political and economic relations with other countries.[39] Applying this logic to Saudi Arabia, a recent population boom has weakened the Saudi economy, raising unemployment rates and lowering per capita incomes in the Kingdom, despite high oil prices on the international market.[40] Partially to confront these issues, the Saudi government has tried to vastly increase the levels of foreign direct investment coming into its country.[41] Increased foreign direct investment acts as a disincentive to Saudi Arabia building a nuclear arsenal, as potential investors would likely not support such a decision. Furthermore, as part of an effort to reform its economy and integrate into international markets, Saudi Arabia joined the World Trade Organization in 2005. Bahgat argues that joining more international organizations and making further reforms to its economy will "reduce incentives for aggressive foreign and security policies and improve the chances for adherence to the non-proliferation regime."[42] Saudi Arabia has been a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) since 1988, and signed a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2005. The recent conclusion of a safeguards agreement may demonstrate that Saudi officials are becoming more cognizant of international nonproliferation norms. Lippman echoes the idea that Saudi leaders are internalizing international norms, and that "the Saudis' weapons of choice are cash and diplomacy."[43] Lippman thus concludes that Saudi Arabia is unlikely to proliferate – either through domestic development of weapons or through buying nuclear bombs from countries such as Pakistan – since the Kingdom would face substantial political and economic backlash after developing the weapons.[44]

Personal motivations to ensure regime survival may also impel the members of the Saudi royal family to forgo the development of nuclear weapons. Saudi leaders are currently engaged in a violent campaign against domestic terrorist groups that do not support the Saudi regime. As Cabrera-Farraj and Salama note, the Saudi royal family is concerned that terrorists may attack Saudi oil facilities. This may make Saudi leaders wary to develop weapons that could be used against their own domestic population.[45]

Conclusion

Considering the Kingdom's current security environment, Saudi Arabia is unlikely to develop nuclear weapons in the short-term since nuclear weapons development poses more disadvantages to strategic Saudi political and economic interests than potential security incentives. Saudi leaders lack the domestic capacity to develop an advanced nuclear arsenal, and are unlikely to purchase nuclear armaments from a foreign country. More importantly, Saudi leaders do not want to incur the political and economic backlash that would result from their development of a nuclear arsenal at a time when they are trying to integrate more into the international economy. Riyadh's desire to maintain a strong U.S.-Saudi relationship impedes the development of nuclear weapons within the Saudi Kingdom, as does the royal family's desire to prevent unconventional terrorism within their own borders.

Three major issues could alter the Saudi's proliferation calculus in the future, making it more likely that Saudi Arabia would decide to acquire nuclear weapons. First, deterioration of the U.S.-Saudi relationship could cause Riyadh to consider nuclear proliferation to deter foreign aggression independently of U.S. security assurances. This scenario would only be likely if Saudi leaders completely lost confidence in the U.S. promise of protection during crises. Second, Iran's development of a working nuclear arsenal could impel Saudi Arabia to acquire its own nuclear weapons. If Iran's development of nuclear weapons coincided with a breakdown of U.S.-Saudi relations, Saudi leaders may decide that they need to acquire a nuclear deterrent to protect themselves. However, it is still possible that an aversion to the political and economic backlash that would ensue from such a decision would influence decision-makers in Riyadh and prevent Saudi proliferation. Finally, in a discussion of future Saudi proliferation decisions it is important to consider who will replace the aging King Abdullah as the next ruler of Saudi Arabia. The next individual to assume the Saudi crown is likely to be either the Crown Prince Sultan, the official successor to Abdullah, or someone from the next generation of King Abdul Aziz's decedents. A change in leadership could produce a shift in Saudi Arabia's perception of the benefits of nuclear weapons development. Crown Prince Sultan, the current Saudi Minister of the Interior, was the alleged mastermind of the rumored Saudi nuclear weapons program of the 1970s. Since Sultan is rumored to have supported the acquisition of nuclear weapons in the past, his ascension to power may make Saudi proliferation more likely. It is not known how a ruler from a younger generation of the House of Saud would approach nuclear proliferation. Yet it is important to keep in mind that a new ruler in Saudi Arabia could have an important influence on the propensity of the Kingdom to proliferate.

Resources

  • Gina Cabrera-Farraj and Sammy Salama, "Report Alleges Saudi Arabia Working on 'Secret Nuclear Program' with Pakistani Assistance," WMD Insights, May 2006, wmdinsights.org.
  • Ewen MacAskill and Ian Traynor, "Saudis Consider Nuclear Bomb," Guardian Unlimited, September 18, 2003, www.guardian.co.uk.
  • Thomas Lipmann, "Nuclear Weapons and Saudi Strategy," U.S.-Saudi Information Service, February 9, 2008, www.saudi-us-relations.org.
  • "Nuclear Energy Handbook: Saudi Arabia," IAEA, www.iaea.org.
  • "Saudi Arabia Country Profile," SIPRI, July 2004, www.sipri.org.
  • Saudi Arabia Special Weapons," GlobalSecurity, www.globalsecurity.org.

Sources:

[1] Marie Colvin, "How an Insider Lifted the Veil on Saudi Plot for an 'Islamic Bomb," Sunday Times (London), July 24, 1994, LexisNexis.
[2] See Ewen MacAskill and Ian Traynor, "Saudis Consider Nuclear Bomb," Guardian (London), September 18, 2003, www.guardian.co.uk.
[3] Gina Cabrera-Farraj and Sammy Salama, "Report Alleges Saudi Arabia Working on 'Secret Nuclear Program' with Pakistani Assistance," WMD Insights, May 2006, http://wmdinsights.org.
[4] "Saudi Arabia Country Profile: Nuclear Facilities Profiles," SIPRI, July 2004, www.sipri.org; Lippman 2008.
[5] Saudi Arabia does have some experience with using nuclear energy for scientific purposes, www.nti.org, 2004.
[6] Saudi Arabia does have some experience with using nuclear energy for scientific purposes, www.nti.org, 2004.
[7] "U.S.-Saudi Arabia Memorandum of Understanding on Nuclear Energy Cooperation," U.S. State Department, www.state.gov, May 16, 2008.
[8] Laurent Pirot, "French Offer Saudi Nuclear Energy Help." ABC News, January 13, 2008, http://abcnews.go.com.
[9] Yana Feldman, "Country Profile 8: Saudi Arabia," SIPRI, July 2004, www.sipri.org.
[10] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 442.
[11] Thomas Lippman, "Nuclear Weapons and Saudi Strategy," Middle East Institute Policy Brief No. 5, January 2008, www.saudi-us-relations.org.
[12] Richard Russell, "A Saudi Nuclear Option?" Survival 43:2 (2001): 69.
[13] John Pike, "Missile Proliferation: Saudi Arabia," Federation of the Atomic Scientists, Updated September 12, 1996, www.fas.org.
[14] John Pike, "Missile Proliferation: Saudi Arabia," Federation of the Atomic Scientists, Updated September 12, 1996, www.fas.org.
[15] John Pike, "Missile Proliferation: Saudi Arabia," Federation of the Atomic Scientists, Updated September 12, 1996, www.fas.org.
[16] Thomas Lippman, "Nuclear Weapons and Saudi Strategy," Middle East Institute Policy Brief No. 5, January 2008, www.saudi-us-relations.org.
[17] Thomas Lippman, "Saudi Arabia, Iran and the U.S.," The Daily Star of Lebanon, July 8, 2008, www.mideasti.org.
[18] "Saudi Arabia Country Analysis Brief," U.S. Energy Information Administration, www.eia.doe.gov, February 2007.
[19] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 442. 425.
[20] Richard Russell, "A Saudi Nuclear Option?" Survival 43:2 (2001): 70.
[21] Richard Russell, "A Saudi Nuclear Option?" Survival 43:2 (2001):; Thomas Lippman, "Saudi Arabia: The Calculations of Uncertainty," The Nuclear Tipping Point, Eds. Kurt Campbell, Robert Einhorn, Mitchell Reiss, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004, 124.
[22] Richard Russell, "A Saudi Nuclear Option?" Survival 43:2 (2001): 72.
[23] Mai Yamani, "The Two Faces of Saudi Arabia," Survival 50:1 (2008): 151.
[24] Bernard Gwertzman, Interviewed in "Bronson: Saudis 'Deeply Concerned' Over Iran's Nuclear Program," Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org, April 3, 2006.
[25] Mai Yamani, "The Two Faces of Saudi Arabia," Survival 50:1 (2008): 154.
[26] Tariq Khaitous, "Egypt and Saudi Arabia's Policies toward Iran's Nuclear Program," NTI Issue Brief, www.nti.org, December 2007; Bradley Bowman, "Chain Reaction: Avoiding a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East," Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, February 2008, 11.
[27] Bradley Bowman, "Chain Reaction: Avoiding a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East," Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, February 2008, 11.
[28] See Richard L. Russell, "A Saudi Nuclear Option?" Survival 43:2 (Summer 2001): 71.
[29] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 427.
[30] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 427.
[31] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 427.
[32] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 429.
[33] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 436.
[34] Richard Russell, "A Saudi Nuclear Option?" Survival 43:2 (2001): 70.
[35] Richard Russell, "A Saudi Nuclear Option?" Survival 43:2 (2001): 70.
[36] Michael Levi, "Would the Saudis Go Nuclear?" The New Republic, www.brookings.edu, June 2, 2003.
[37] Gina Cabrera-Farraj and Sammy Salama, "Report Alleges Saudi Arabia Working on 'Secret Nuclear Program' with Pakistani Assistance," WMD Insights, May 2006, http://wmdinsights.org.
[38] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 438.
[39] See Etel Solingen, Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia and the Middle East, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007, 40 – 43.
[40] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 439.
[41] "Saudi Arabia Top Recipient of FDI in the Arab World," Saudi Embassy to the United States, October 18, 2007, www.saudiembassy.net.
[42] Gawdat Bahgat, "Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia," Middle East Journal, 60:3 (2006): 439.
[43] Thomas Lippman, "Saudi Arabia, Iran and the U.S.," The Daily Star of Lebanon, July 8, 2008, www.mideasti.org.
[44] Thomas Lippman, "Saudi Arabia, Iran and the U.S.," The Daily Star of Lebanon, July 8, 2008, www.mideasti.org.
[45] Gina Cabrera-Farraj and Sammy Salama, "Report Alleges Saudi Arabia Working on 'Secret Nuclear Program' with Pakistani Assistance," WMD Insights, May 2006, http://wmdinsights.org.
[46] Marie Colvin, "How an Insider Lifted the Veil on Saudi Plot for an 'Islamic Bomb," Sunday Times (London), July 24, 1994, LexisNexis.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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Kate Amlin analyzes the prospects of Saudi Arabia developing a nuclear weapons capability in response to nuclear developments in Iran and/or a shift in U.S.-Saudi relations.

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