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Pro-Obama think tank downplays regional threat of a nuclear Iran

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — A U.S. think tank regarded as close to the
administration of President Barack Obama has played down the repercussions
of an Iranian nuclear weapons arsenal.

The Center for a New American Security asserted that Iran’s nuclear
weapon program would not spark an arms race in the Middle East. The
Washington-based center, in a report by two former senior Defense Department
aides, dismissed the prospect that Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey would
develop atomic bombs.
“Instead, Saudi Arabia would likely pursue a more aggressive version of
its current conventional defense and civilian nuclear hedging strategy while seeking out an external nuclear security guarantee,” the report said.

Titled “Atomic Kingdom: If Iran Builds the Bomb, Will Saudi Arabia Be
Next?” authors Colin Kahl and Melissa Dalton disputed assessments by Western intelligence agencies that Riyad was preparing to acquire or develop nuclear weapons. The report said Saudi Arabia lacked the technical skills to develop or procure nuclear warheads.

“Saudi Arabia lacks the technological and bureaucratic wherewithal to do
so any time in the foreseeable future,” the report said. “Saudi Arabia is
more likely to respond to Iranian nuclearization by continuing to bolster
its conventional defenses against Iranian aggression while engaging in a
long-term hedging strategy designed to improve civilian nuclear

Kahl served as deputy assistant for the Middle East to then-Defense
Secretary Robert Gates until 2011. Ms. Dalton served as a foreign affairs
specialist for the Pentagon during Obama’s first term.

The report, released as the administration was appealing for a
reconciliation dialogue with Iran, called on Obama to prevent a Saudi
nuclear breakout. One proposal was to pressure Pakistan to end any nuclear
cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdom.

“The kingdom is also much less likely to illicitly acquire operational
nuclear weapons from Pakistan than is commonly assumed,” the report said.
“Furthermore, even if Islamabad proved willing to extend its nuclear
umbrella, a potential U.S. nuclear guarantee would likely ‘out compete’ a
Pakistani alternative.”

The report also played down any nuclear weapons programs by Egypt and
Turkey. The authors said Egypt could not afford such a program and Turkey
would be satisfied by NATO security guarantees.

“Turkey also has considerably more financial resources than Egypt does
to devote toward a nuclear program and has ambitious plans to expand its
civilian nuclear sector,” the report said. “However, it would likely take
many years for Turkey to fully develop the nuclear or technical
infrastructure needed to support an advanced nuclear weapons program.”

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1 Comment for “Pro-Obama think tank downplays regional threat of a nuclear Iran”

  1. Neither The US nor Israel can afford to wait, the threat should be eliminated sooner than latter.