Saudi Arabia has been long suspected by the West of bankrolling Pakistan's development of nuclear weapons, and now it seems they are calling in the favor in the form of off-the-shelf nuclear weapons.
According to the Sunday Times, Saudi Arabia could take delivery as early as next month, but even with this new report, some experts remain doubtful until the transfer actually takes place.
Analysts have mixed opinions on why the Saudis are taking this course of action -- especially while the P5+1 negotiations are still in progress with their arch-nemesis, Iran. A nuclear Saudi Arabia would only encourage the Iranian development to maintain military parity.
One possible scenario is that the Saudis are taking cues from the presidential candidate's rhetoric that all sides are now resigned to the fact that the Iraq War was a mistake. Fearing possible war-weariness in the Middle East, the House of Saud might be preparing to take a greater role in its own defense -- by building up a nuclear deterrent.This could potentially spark a new Middle East arms race. Egypt, the UAE, and Libya, Ethiopia, and Turkey all have developing civilian nuclear programs. Turkey hosts NATO nuclear weapons, while Israel has its own suspected (yet not officially declared) stockpile.
The Islamic State is, of course, a wildcard in this whole equation -- both in terms of war-weariness in the West and their growing territorial and populist aspirations. While the Saudi government may want more protection from the Islamic State's growing movement, increasing proliferation in the region only increases the chances of the Islamic State capturing nuclear devices and technology.
The real question at hand is how the next president will deal with a nuclear Saudi Arabia. As the most stable, long-term ally in the region, will we encourage the nuclear proliferation and potential arms race? Or back away, allowing the Saudi government to protect itself with the cards falling as they may?
The House of Saud has once more forced our political hand in America. We really need a foreign policy that embraces our core values, not one based on a quasi-friendly ally in close proximity to our enemies.