Saudi Arabia has become increasingly concerned by the
nuclear threat from Iran in the aftermath of the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.
A new congressional report asserted that the Saudi kingdom has not been
assuaged by Iranian efforts to improve relations with Riyad and other Gulf
Cooperation Council states. The Congressional Research Service said the
Iranian threat has emerged as the Saudi kingdom has become increasingly
vulnerable regarding its relations with the United States.
"Although relations with Iran have improved, the Saudi leadership
remains wary of the Shi'ite Muslim clerical regime that has governed Iran
since 1979 and concerned over Iran's pursuit of advanced conventional arms
and weapons of mass destruction," the report, entitled "Saudi Arabia:
Current Issues and U.S. Relations," said. "On the other hand, while
welcoming a U.S. security umbrella, Saudi leaders have become increasingly
vulnerable to domestic and regional criticism for appearing to side with the
United States against fellow Arab and Muslim regimes."
Authored by analyst Alfred Prados, the report said Saudi Arabia and
other GCC states have long been concerned over threats from Iran and Iraq.
The report said the combined forces of the six GCC states have been
outnumbered by Iran and Iraq.
Despite tension with Washington, the United States remains the leading
weapons supplier to Saudi Arabia, with $4.6 billion in arms agreements from
1994 through 2001. The report said, however, that Riyad has decreased
procurement since the mid-1990s amid increasingly difficult economic
The report warns of difficulties of U.S. companies that do business in
Saudi Arabia. Saudi clients were said to have failed to pay for U.S.
services or "sought to expand terms of a contract without further
reimbursement, and in some cases have taken reprisals against U.S. employees
of the firms involved."
The report said despite a huge arms procurement program Saudi Arabia and
the five other GCC states remain vulnerable to Iranian aggression. But the
report said the United States has demonstrated a strong security commitment
to Saudi Arabia.
"Although Saudi forces acquired experience during the Gulf war and are
undergoing further upgrading through a large-scale program of arms
procurement, both Saudi Arabia and its five smaller Gulf neighbors remain
vulnerable to future external aggression," the report said. "On one hand,
both the Iranian and Iraqi armed forces suffered major personnel and
equipment losses during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and Operation Desert
Storm, respectively, and neither is in a position to offer an immediate
threat to the Gulf Cooperation Council. On the other hand, the combined
forces of Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies are outnumbered in important
categories by those of Iran and Iraq [before its recent defeat in Operation