Saudi Faults Israel/Iran for Arms Race

Exclusive: A prominent Saudi leader says his country might have to develop a nuclear bomb if Israel’s nuclear arsenal is not dismantled and if Iran is not dissuaded from obtaining nukes, an indication that oil-rich Saudi Arabia sees the WMD threat as coming from Israel as well as Iran, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Prince Turki bin Faisal, a prominent member of the Saudi royal family, has cited Israel’s existing nuclear arsenal as well as Iran’s alleged pursuit of an A-bomb as justification for his country’s possible development of its own weapons of mass destruction.

Prince Turki, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and ex-ambassador to the United States, warned that the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council – consisting of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf oil states – might need WMDs because they could find themselves trapped between two nuclear powers.

Prince Turki bin Faisal

“If our efforts and the efforts of the world community fail to bring about the dismantling of the Israeli arsenal of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and preventing Iran from acquiring the same, then why shouldn’t we at least study seriously all available options, including acquiring WMDs, so that our future generations will not blame us for neglecting any courses of action that will keep looming dangers away from us,” he told a GCC conference in Riyadh on Dec. 5.

Prince Turki’s comments represent a deviation from the approach by the West and the United Nations to concentrate their attention singlemindedly on Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions while virtually ignoring the fact that Israel possesses a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.

That double standard was underscored when the new leadership of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency consulted secretly with officials of Israel’s nuclear weapons program regarding Iran’s alleged progress toward building a nuclear bomb.

As Geoffrey Pyatt, the American chargé in Vienna, Austria, reported in a July 9, 2009, cable, the new IAEA director Yukiya Amano, a Japanese diplomat, not only thanked the United States for masterminding his election but agreed to private meetings with Israeli officials.

Pyatt learned that Amano had consulted with Israeli Ambassador Israel Michaeli “immediately after his appointment” and that Michaeli “was fully confident of the priority Amano accords verification issues,” i.e. keeping the pressure on Iran, which insists that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only.

Michaeli added that he discounted some of Amano’s public remarks about there being “no evidence of Iran pursuing a nuclear weapons capability” as just words that Amano felt he had to say “to persuade those who did not support him about his ‘impartiality.’”

Amano also agreed to private “consultations” with the head of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, Pyatt reported. Pyatt’s cable was obtained by WikiLeaks and was first reported by the Guardian in the UK. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Slanting the Case on Iran’s Nukes.”]

Then, last month, Amano reportedly relied on allegations obtained, in part, from Israel for a surprisingly harsh denunciation of Iran regarding its alleged nuclear-bomb progress. Widely trumpeted in the Western press, the IAEA report has spurred new tensions between Iran and Israel’s allies in Europe and the United States.

Yet, even as the U.S. and Europe ratchet up economic sanctions against Iran – while leaving open the option of a military strike – the West continues to ignore the existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and has placed no demands on Israel to even acknowledge it, let alone dismantle it.

Though Prince Turki’s remarks received only minor notice in the U.S. press – the New York Times ran a brief Associated Press story at the bottom of page A9 on Wednesday – the AP story contained an unusual recognition that “most defense analysts believe that Israel has nuclear weapons, but it has refused to confirm or deny their existence.”

The prospect of a WMD program by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries received more attention in some of the energy trade press. For instance, Oilprice.com writer John C.K. Daly reported that Prince Turki’s “idea of supporting Gulf countries acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) if Israel and Iran do not constrain their nuclear programs represents the edge of a precipitously slippery slope.”

Daly added, “Turki’s comments should not be dismissed lightly. … Given his long term position at the very epicenter of Saudi power and his previous positions on Iran [favoring negotiations between Washington and Tehran], bin Turki’s change of attitude is significant.

“Reading the Riyadh tea leaves, bin Turki has established an explicit link between Iran’s purported nuclear armaments program and Israel’s de facto one. Given that this connection has been advanced by one of Washington’s closet Middle East allies and the world’s leading exporter of oil, expect the Obama administration to pay close attention, even as it sends out for gallons of Maalox.”

The possibility that Israel’s actual nuclear program as well as Iran’s speculative one is spurring a nuclear arms race in the Middle East also should be unsettling to U.S. policymakers for another reason: the hard-line Sunni Muslims who rule Saudi Arabia have had ambiguous associations with senior al-Qaeda leaders, who recruited mostly Saudis for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While Prince Turki was head of Saudi intelligence, he personally met five times with al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, who was himself a Saudi. Prince Turki’s known contacts with bin Laden dealt mostly with their collaboration in the 1980s regarding the CIA-backed war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Their last meeting reportedly was in early 1990.

Even though Prince Turki and other Saudi leaders broke with bin Laden when he began urging terror attacks on American targets, the precise relationship between some Saudi officials and al-Qaeda remained unclear — and the prospect of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states possessing nuclear bombs would represent another possible avenue for terrorists to gain control of a devastating weapon.

[For more on related topics, see Robert Parry’s Lost History, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, now available in a three-book set for the discount price of only $29. For details, click here.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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12 comments on “Saudi Faults Israel/Iran for Arms Race

  1. A country that is 1000 years in the past sentences a man to 500 lashes for “blasphemy” Religous wingnutism. Israel needs to protect itself against theocratic states like Iran and Saudi Arabia, who would have no problem annilihating the country. Even a site like this who loves the medievalist Islamic “governments” surely would have a little doubt about them? Oh well, wishful thinking…

    • …as compared to a country which is 3000 years in the past and lashes the whole world with charge of “antisemitism”. If the rulers in those countries were half as cruel as Israeli regemn is there would not have a single Jew left in entire Middle East. If you are not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease then you should remember that the annihilation you are taking about was done by Euopeans who very cunningly fooled you and the likes to vent your anger on Muslim states. You probably never sat with your grand pa otherwise he must have told you how generous most of Islamic rulers were with Jews, and the real Jews acknowledge that.There is so much common between Judaism and Islam to explore, only if sanity prevails on both sides.

      • Muslim Arab Anti-Semitism
        Why it makes peace very difficult – almost impossible

        Anti-Semitism has often and rightfully been called the longest hatred, the oldest prejudice. It has plagued Europe for a very long time and has, over the centuries, brought untold suffering to the Jewish people. Its most deadly expression was the Nazi Holocaust, which caused the death of 6 million Jews and extinguished ancient civilizations in much of Europe. So terrible, so evil were those events that anti-Semitism was shunned and repudiated by the civilized world.

        What are the facts?

        Anti-Semitism is integral to Muslim culture. But while anti-Semitism has indeed been shunned by the civilized world, things are quite different in the Muslim/Arab world because anti-Semitism is an integral part of their religion and culture. The Muslim countries are the only places in the world in which anti-Semitism is publicly endorsed and where it flourishes. The Koran abounds in anti-Semitic statements. An expression of that hatred toward Jews is imbued in Muslim children from an early age. It is the fate of Jews in Muslim lands. For centuries they were tolerated, but only in the submissive capacity of “dhimmis” – second class citizens. They were subjected to countless humiliations, bizarre rules of conduct and clothing and in many cases to assaults and pogroms. When the state of Israel was founded in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews in Muslim lands had to flee for their lives or were driven from their homes, where they had lived, in most cases, for centuries. When Israel emerged victorious from the 1967 Six-Day War, virtually all of the remaining Jews were expelled – from Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Morocco. In those countries, virtually no Jews remain today. The vast majority of them wound up in Israel where they and their descendants form a large part of the population and are fully integrated, of course. Compare that to the Palestinian refugees, who, mostly at the urging of their leaders, fled the nascent Jewish state in 1948. Their descendants, who have now miraculously increased to 5 million, still live today in miserable refugee camps, at the dole of the world – mostly of the United States, of course.

        Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf, which is prohibited in Germany, is, in Arab and Farsi translations, a perennial best seller in Muslim countries. So is the fraudulent invention The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Muslim world is the only place in which those scurrilous books are readily available. A recent Egyptian television series of 41 installments, based on the “Protocols,” was a huge success in the Muslim world.

        Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is a favorite topic in the Muslim world. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (a reputed “moderate”) wrote his doctoral thesis with this title: “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and the Zionist Movement.” In some regards, Arab Jew-haters are even worse than their infamous predecessors. For all their terrible deeds, the Nazis never lionized their killers, named streets or buildings after them or encouraged their children to emulate them. That is, however, standard practice in the Muslim world. To kill Jews, to become a martyr, is the highest goal and promises immediate access to a paradise of unbelievable pleasures.

        Many people believe that the existence of the state of Israel is the cause of this hatred and that Muslim anti-Semitism would disappear if the Jewish state would disappear. But that is not true. As former “refusenik” and Jewish Agency Chairman, Natan Sharansky, has said: “The Jewish state is no more the cause of anti-Semitism today than the absence of the Jewish state was a century ago.”

        Hatred of Jews is an integral part of Arab/Muslim culture and did not come about with the creation of the Jewish state. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, at that time the highest Islamic authority in that part of the world, was a staunch and steadfast ally of the Nazis, a trusted accomplice of Hitler. He personally raised SS Waffen troops among the Bosnian Muslims and promised the Nazis that he would fully cooperate with them in the extermination of the Jews in the Middle East. That was in the 1930′s – 20 years before the creation of Israel. One shudders to imagine what the Arabs would have done to the Jewish residents of the area if the Nazis had come out victorious in World War II.

        Israel has tried for over 60 years to come to terms with its Arab-Muslim neighbors. But it is difficult to make peace with those who think of them as sons of pigs and apes. In the words of Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hasan Nasrallah, who declared: “If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak or feeble… we would not find anyone like the Jew.” How can one make peace with such people, with hatred like that?

        This ad has been published and paid for by

        Facts and Logic About the Middle East
        P.O. Box 590359
        San Francisco, CA 94159

        • Flat 5, the best you could produce in response to my above comments was a long advertisement, most probably by some Zionist pro-Israel organization with an obvious motive. At best it should be considered as a propaganda tool. Let’s do some research on the topic. The questions to be answered could be: 1) is there a hatred between two religious, how the most sacred sources on both sides answer this question. 2) If there is hatred what is the basis/Origen of such hatred. 3) what is peculiar about Jews that makes them vulnerable to such hatred by almost all major religions and cultures. 4) if this hatred is so intense and prolonged how did they survive for so long and are in such a powerful position in the world today. Now please don’t lable these questions as ‘Antisemitic’. We must be honest to find the answers to these questions. Hope we reach some common grounds.

  2. Here’s a more balanced report of the Saudi announcement. The italics are mine:

    Saudi Arabia Plans to Go Nuclear

    Saudi Arabia plans to obtain nuclear weapons, but its nuclear power will be only for “peaceful use,” a former intelligence official told a security conference.

    “Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran… therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, quoted by AFP.

    He added, “A (nuclear) disaster befalling one of us would affect us all.”
    The Sunni Muslim kingdom last summer said it would build 16 nuclear reactors for energy, but Faisal’s remarks were the first indication, at least in public, that Saudi Arabia may acquire nuclear weapons.

    Israel has maintained a policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” meaning it does not confirm or deny assumptions that it has nuclear weapons, perhaps as many as several hundred.

    However, Saudi Arabia’s biggest worry is Iran, run by a Shi’ite Muslim regime that openly says it wants to head a new Islamic empire in the Middle East.
    The Islamic Republic is on a collision course with the West – and Shi’ite Muslim Arab countries – as it proceeds towards the capability of both manufacturing and delivering a nuclear weapon.

    Saudi Arabia focused on peaceful use of nuclear energy at the energy conference in the oil-rich monarchy. “Once our nuclear project is complete and we have satisfied the kingdom’s demand for electricity,” Saudi Arabia plans to export electricity, said Khalid Al-Sulaiman, vice president of renewable energy at King Abdullah City.

    As the world looks for alternative energy sources, Saudi Arabia, which produces 20 percent of the world’s crude oil, is looking to a future of not being dependent on oil to keep its economy strong.

    Source: IsraelNationalNews

  3. Yohanan Bdr on said:

    Saudi Arabia should be glad Israel has nukes, especially since rogue Islamic states no longer respect or recognize Arabia’s opinion on matters. Maybe the Saudis should have nukes. They may be a very “fundamentalist” Islamic nation, but they provide the only stability in the region besides Israel. It’s time for the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac to honor their ancestors’ wishes to live in peace. Both buried Abraham and parted in peace. Learn from the past.

  4. rosemerry on said:

    So now we have a flatmate for flat5. Surely since most media support the Zionist entity, Iran is vilified while never attacking anyone, Israel’s nukes were even admitted by Ehud Olmert, and Israel is constantly belligerent, the Israel-is- always the-victim moaners can keep off the comments of this site which does NOT always slavishly follow the rightwing.

    • Hillary on said:

      The whole world except one country calls for a Nuclear free Middle East.

      “We Israelis possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets…We have the capacity to take the world down with us.”
      — Dr. Marvin Crevald Hebrew University (Associated Press, 2006)

    • joel zelnik on said:

      you’re just a neo nazi w/your “Zionist entity” bull shit

  5. Pingback: Miscellaneous articles for – Articles divers pour 12-15-2011 | Lys-d'Or