Nuclear Theocratic Powers of the Middle East and Beyond…….

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Particularly worrisome in the Saudi case is the potential departure from the Gold Standard established by the UAE 123 agreement. If, as has been suggested, the Saudi agreement is concluded without an accompanying commitment to abjure reprocessing and enrichment technologies, there could be profound consequences for the administration’s nonproliferation objectives and for the long-term stability of the Middle East. Although Saudi Arabia has not previously been judged to be a proliferation threat, as it “lacks the technological expertise, industrial base, and disciplined commitment required to develop an indigenous weapons capacity,” recent developments may have altered this assessment. The alacrity with which the United States dispensed of its long-standing support for the regime of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak no doubt gave pause to the House of Saud, which continues – 30 years later – to be troubled by American abandonment of the Shah on the eve of the Iranian revolution. Nor is Saudi threat perception likely to be relieved by the regional meddling of its frequent ideological competitor. This is to say nothing of the Kingdom’s concerns regarding Iranian weaponization. Indeed, Saudi Arabia appears increasingly unnerved by the trajectory of the Iranian program, a trend that can be seen in the country’s shifting characterizations of its own nuclear ambitions. ……..

  • There are fears that Saudi Arabia may try and shift any nuclear program toward military use. In fact that is exactly what Prince Turki al-Faisal warned about last month. There is now this fear, but the difference is that the Saudis will need American (and maybe other) help in any nuclear plan they have.

  • There are, there have been, fears of the Iranian nuclear program. These fears are based on possibilities that the Iranian may be trying to either build nuclear weapons or, more likely, reach the point ehre they can build nuclear weapons.

  • Then there is Israel. Everyone knows that Israel has many nuclear warheads, although no one can prove it. Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), hence it is not under any Western pressure to allow international (IAEA) inspection.
  • Pakistan has several nuclear weapons, and it is not an NPT signatory either. Pakistan was created as a quasi-theocratic state: it was carved up as an Islamic state from parts of India. The country has been veering toward fundamentalism and back over its history. It may be closer now than at any other time.

What do all these West and South Asian countries have in common? No, not the geographic proximity. They are all either declared theocracies, undeclared theocracies, quasi-theocracies, or threatened theocracies. They are all within one of these categories I noted above. Scary, no? (The United States is not a theocracy, although the Tea Party and other elements would like it to be and try to push it that way).