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Monday, July 4, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Saudis to NATO: Expect a Mideast nuke race

LONDON — Saudi Arabia has warned NATO of a nuclear arms race in the Gulf.


A senior Saudi prince believed sent by King Abdullah has told NATO that Riyad would not lag behind Iran in any nuclear weapons race. Prince Turki Al Faisal told a NATO conference in June that an Iranian nuclear weapons buildup would prompt a similar effort by Saudi Arabia.

"This would compel Saudi Arabia to pursue policies which could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences," Turki was quoted as saying.

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In 2008, the Saudi king warned the United States that Riyad would embark on a nuclear weapons effort unless Iran's project was halted. The warning, reported in a U.S. State Department cable, was never denied by the Saudi leadership.

The remarks, first reported by Britain's Guardian daily, marked the latest Saudi warning that it was preparing a nuclear weapons program. Over the last 18 months, Riyad has signed nuclear cooperation accords with Western nations as well as China and Russia.

Turki was said to represent the Saudi leadership, particularly the king and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Nayef. Over the last decade, Turki has served as Saudi intelligence chief as well as Riyad's ambassador to the United States.

"We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we don't," Turki, according to a transcript of the NATO conference in a British air force base, said. "It's as simple as that. If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit."

Turki warned NATO that Iran was expanding its influence throughout the Gulf and the rest of the Middle East. The prince urged the Western alliance to confront Iran, which he termed a "paper tiger with steel claws."

"Iran is very sensitive about other countries meddling in its affairs," Turki was quoted as saying. "But it should treat others like it expects to be treated. The kingdom expects Iran to practice what it preaches."


Instead of focusing on gaining in the arms race, The Middle East will engage the idea of a nuclear-free Middle East zone. This will solve for them two headaches. One, the possibility of a nuclear Iran. And second, the removal of nukes from Israel's arsenal - which is their intention anyway.

Christine Weick      11:46 p.m. / Tuesday, July 5, 2011

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