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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Arab nation may be going nuclear?

Washington Post reporter Jim Hoagland told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Tuesday that an Arab nation is about to go nuclear (Hat Tip: Defense Tech).
While some countries claim Tehran is bent on becoming a nuclear-armed power – a claim Iran denies – an Arab country already is taking steps to go nuclear, says Jim Hoagland, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist, who spoke Thursday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"As a senior Arab political official who was in town recently said to a small group of us, [that] it's clear there is already activity underway on the Arab side on the development of nuclear weapons," Hoagland told a packed room at the institute's offices. Hoagland did not identify the Arab official or others in the "small group," and hastened to add that there were "no details to provide."


Hoagland did not respond to Military.com's request for additional comment and it is still unclear which Arab nation he was referring to.


John Pike, a national security analyst and director of Globalsecurity.org, said he does not know which country Hoagland might have been talking about. He believes the Syrian facility was a nuclear weapons program, but is no longer operating.

Beyond that, he told Military.com in an email today, Egypt "has had the rudiments of a program, but never seriously" pursued one. He said he also believes Saudi Arabia has "some kind of arrangement with Pakistan."

Pike states on his Web site that the Saudis do not have nuclear weapons, but that some countries fear it may attempt to buy warheads rather than try to develop them. He says Saudi officials have discussed buying from Pakistan intermediate-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Hoagland offered his nuclear tidbit in response to a reporter's question about U.S. offers to provide a security "umbrella" to Middle East countries in order to discourage them from starting nuclear weapons programs of their own as a hedge against Iran.

"I think there's some interesting continuity on this point," Hoagland said. "During the Bush administration there was discussion about a nuclear umbrella, a doctrine that would be directed at reassuring Arab states in the Gulf, Arab states at large, that they would be protected against an Iranian nuclear weapon."

The same guarantee was offered Turkey, but that country already operated under the assumption the U.S. was watching its back against a possibly nuclear Iran, and didn't feel the need for a nuclear program, according to Hoagland.
Read the whole thing. I'm guessing Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or one of the Persian Gulf States. If it were Syria or Libya, Israel would take it out. But the government probably feels less comfortable taking out an Egyptian or Jordanian nuke, since we're nominally at 'peace' with them, and has decent relations with some states in the Persian Gulf (Qatar, Bahrain). The Saudis? Taking them on would be a huge risk because they have ultra-modern top of the line American equipment just like we do.


The picture at the top is a computer illustration of Syria's destroyed al-Kibar plant.


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