“Arab reactions to a nuclear-armed Iran”

“Arab reactions to a nuclear-armed Iran”
June 6, 2009, Analysis by Tariq Khaitous
     Tariq Khaitous argues that a nuclear-armed Iran would lead Arab states to continue buildups of conventional arms and perhaps develop chemical or biological weapons. Khaitous believes nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is unlikely because the Arab states lack sufficient nuclear technology and expertise. Moreover, the acquirement of nuclear weapons, for example through purchases from Pakistan, would damage strategic relations with the US and risk military action from Israel.
     Khaitous writes that states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia will instead rely more heavily on the US and other Western states, such as NATO members, for security. Khaitous also suggests that while the US could extend its nuclear deterrent to its Arab allies, the US may be wary of making such commitments. Such reliance on the US may also be unpopular among the region’s citizens and would likely require Arab states to forsake the development of any WMD.
     While the Arab states cannot offer Iran nuclear assistance or security, Khaitous argues that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in particular should exploit Iran’s desire for a regional free-trade zone and increased economic ties. Saudi Arabia could use its strong economic relations with China to pressure Beijing to support international efforts against Iran. Khaitous adds Syrian support in resolving the nuclear issue would facilitate the return of the Golan Heights and provide Damascus economic opportunities with the West.
Washington Institute for Near East Policy


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