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Nuclear Proliferation: The Case of Saudi Arabia

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Since the 1970s, the world's attention has focused on nuclear proliferation in Iran and Iraq. Very little attention has been given to nuclear proliferation in the third regional power in the Persian Gulf — Saudi Arabia. This article addresses the question of potential Saudi nuclear ambition. Most policymakers and analysts agree that Saudi Arabia does not possess nuclear weapons. Still, some argue that the Kingdom has both strategic incentives and financial resources to pursue a nuclear program. This article examines the security threats to Saudi Arabia from Iran, Iraq, Israel, and Yemen. It also analyzes the impact of domestic economic and political reform on Riyadh's security policy. The article argues that the US' strong commitments to defend Saudi Arabia against external threats have been crucial in reducing incentives to acquire nuclear weapons.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2006

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