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King Says Saudi Arabia Would Need Nukes to Counter Iran Arsenal: Ross

Former Obama administration adviser Dennis Ross, shown in December. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2009 confirmed his nation would seek to acquire atomic armaments following the possible emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, according to Ross (AP Photo/Anti-Defamation League). Former Obama administration adviser Dennis Ross, shown in December. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2009 confirmed his nation would seek to acquire atomic armaments following the possible emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, according to Ross (AP Photo/Anti-Defamation League).

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah said in 2009 his nation would move to produce nuclear weapons if Iran established an atomic arsenal, Haaretz on Wednesday quoted a former top Obama administration adviser on the Middle East as saying (see GSN, Jan. 26).

“If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons,” Dennis Ross quoted Abdullah as saying during talks in April 2009. Ross, speaking on Tuesday at a book event in New York City, said he had responded by warning of the spread of nuclear weapons. Abdullah then simply restated that "If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons," according to the veteran U.S. diplomat (see GSN, March 23).

Other Saudi leaders, including former Ambassador to the United States Turki al-Faisal, have previously suggested their nation might need a strategic counterweight to Israel's widely presumed nuclear arsenal or the atomic intentions of Iran.

Turki last year told high-level NATO personnel that an Iranian nuclear arsenal "would compel Saudi Arabia ... to pursue which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences."

An unidentified "senior Saudi official" stated in a February London Times article that his nation would pursue a "twin-track nuclear weapons program" should Iran acquire such armaments.

Iran says its atomic program is strictly civilian in nature, but Washington and other governments suspect the Middle Eastern state of seeking at least the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran has held two rounds of talks since April with world powers China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Neither session has appeared to make significant progress in breaking the longstanding impasse, but another meeting is scheduled for June in Moscow (see related GSN story, today).

While arguing it is "unrealistic" to think that major advancements might occur in two meetings, Ross said the powers should establish a clear end date for such talks (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz, May 30).

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