Arabs Developing a Nuke

We have a pretty dramatic story this afternoon on from our Associate Editor Bryant Jordan.

The sharp-eared gumshoe picked up a throw away line during a panel discussion yesterday that had giant implications. Here’s a taste:

According to an expert on the Middle East, Israel may soon no longer be alone in possessing nuclear weapons in that volatile region of the globe.

But the other power with “the bomb” may not necessarily be Iran. 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.”

Bryant tried to reach Hoagland but to no avail. He got some comments from a nuke watchdog group and some analysts, but he’s still digging into who Hoagland might have been talking about.

Read the entire story HERE.

— Christian

  • chrisram

    The Syrians are the obvious choice…..but as Iran is the up and coming power in the region what if the Saudis decided they needed a deterrent to a nuclear Iran…..the region gets scarier and scarier all the time. Then again maybe the threat of nuclear annihilation will make the are a bit more stable……what a mess.

  • Nidi

    Yeah, I was thinking it would be the Saudis. I mean, the Israelis did blast that nuke facility the Syrians were setting up with NK help back in 06 or 07. Although, I dont really see too much of an issue with the Saudis having a nuclear capability. They are fairly conservative and radical, but they are also stable, and they are also(slowly but steadily) modernizing. And in any case, with Wahhabi-funded schools and mosques sprouting all over the world, along with the spread of Saudi investments, the possibility of them using a nuke is right up there with the US using one now. Then region could certainly use an arab nuclear power to balance out Israel, and it’d be best if it were a state that was on friendly terms with the US, or at the least not actively denouncing it.

  • LEP

    There are continuous unfounded assertions that Syria had engaged in a “covert” nuclear weapons program and that Israel bombed a Syrian “nuclear” reactor under construction. With what type of nuclear fuel were the Syrians going to operate this “nuclear reactor?” With neutron-impregnated falafells and humus or with the unprocessed and “missing” uranium hexafluoride “yellowcake” from the Republic of Niger? First, you need solid U 235 even at 2%-20% concentration to have a viable nuclear reaction, and then sophisticated and highly dangerous chemical reprocessing to separate Plutonium 238 from the spent U 235. Syria “ain’t got all that” because it does not even have money to buy new military transport trucks for its army that still uses the Soviet remnants from the October 1973 Middle East War (view the withdrawal of the Syrian forces from Lebanon in 2005 and “get the picture’). The bigger issue is Syria’s biochemical warheads and its theater ballistic missile (TBM) capabilities.

  • LEP

    Only Egypt has the scientific and technological sophistication to proceed with an independent nuclear program but not the incentive since it risks the vast amounts of free annual U.S. military assistance. Politically, Egypt has also called for a “nuclear weapons free zone” in the Middle East but that concept infringes on the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal. Saudi Arabia can “buy” its way to Pakistani warheads because of its petrodollars and the ideological affinity with the Islamic hard-line elements within the Pakistani military and the notorious pro-Al Qaeda Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Saudi Arabia can then either “mate” such Pakistani-origin nuclear warheads to its own Saudi Chinese-made theater ballistic missiles (at fixed sites), or buy a “complete package” of Pakistani TBMs and/or cruise missiles.

  • fightingirish

    IF Iran obtains the bomb, a first step might be to move the B-61’s nuclear bombs from the NATO bases in Europe to US bases in Turkey & on the Arabian Peninsula.
    Still I hope a nuke free middle East.

  • Nidi

    NK supplied them with the material. Several NK nationals were present at the facility when it was bombed, and supposedly some were killed. I was given this information from a former ambassador.

  • kim

    A nuke free Middle East would be nice, but I think there’s at least one country there that will never, ever give up its nukes.

    • Nick Mastascusa


  • chrisram

    Don’t underestimate Countries and regimes’ willingness and ability to spend the necessary resources and acquire nuclear weapons. North Korea is a good example, they are broke and a barely functioning state yet the invested what they have, acquired the know how and most likely materials from AQ Khan. So if AQ Khan was willing to lend his expertise to the Norks then I’d bet that he’s more than willing to help an Arab state. These days it doesn’t take too much to get the know how, but yeah enrichment of Uranium is not a trivial task.

  • chrisram

    The question really becomes, what will the Israeli response be? And how will some Arab nation acquiring nukes affect the regional balance of power.

    I suspect the Saudis because they fear the Shiite influence in the region and want the ability to counter a nuclear Iran.

  • Jack

    The Israelis’ started this. Leaders of the arab countries would be foolish to not take steps to defend themselves against Israeli nukes. Just like Russia, France & Britain did once the US got them first.

    • Cannon Fodder

      Yeah, Israel started all of this… They are so busy running terror cells, flying planes into skyscrapers, throwing acid on women, and kicking kittens that they have nothing better to do than build nukes…

      Israel is 1/19th the size of California, surrounded by 22 hostile Islamic countries, and they own 1/640th the land of surrounding Islamic area. Israel is about 40 miles wide and has a land mass of 20,330 sq miles. In comparrison, Georgia has a land mass of 27,000 sq miles and was overrun by Russia in a few days..

      Israel needs nukes for deterrance. This makes the Islamic countries think twice before they invade, but they still deal with constant terror attacks on their soil though…

  • Zandor

    If Israel ruled the universe we would all be happier.

    I am sure it is written somewhere in the Bible.

    • Cannon Fodder

      Yup, right after the part where Iran, Somalia, Libya and Russia get wiped out…

    • J Weich

      Israel DOES rule the universe and we are far from happy.
      If Israel didn’t rule the universe, the world would be a far better place.

  • Cannon Fodder

    Sorry, but I wouldn’t trust any of the middle east Islamic nations with a nuke. Their faith is just two confusing, live along side the jews in one verse, wipe them out in another…. They all have back door terrorist ties in one way or another.

    Israel having nukes just makes sense. They are one of the few stable nations there and all of their neighboring countries wants them gone.

    • J Weich

      Israel has performed more terrorist crimes than most countries put together, with the possible exception of the US. Israel was actually formed by terrorism. Most Israeli prime ministers were ex-(ha!) terrorists. The reason why israelis are experts on terrorism is that they single-handedly invented it.

  • C-Low

    My money would be on Saudi Arabia and the other small associates the Gulf Council i.e. UAE, Qutar, Bahrain, Kuwait.

    They have the money the connections (Pakistan, France, US) and because they are quasi US allies they as a response to a Iranian threat would get a pass.

  • David

    Has no-one thought that Jordan might be the least contraversial, most progressive and most stable country in the region capable of pulling enough diplomatic, technological and economic strings in order to accomplish such a feat?

  • CJ-

    The only hot nukes in the middle east are the Isreali and Lebanese babes! rawwwrrrrr!

  • chrisram

    Why was my comment deleted???

  • chrisram

    Why did it *** out the word S h i i t e ??

  • chrisram

    I think they've realized that it guarntees that other countries probably won't try to invade yours. Also it gives you a weapon the Israelis have to consider when planning to launch airstrikes against your Country.

    I suspect the Israelis will use this as leverage to get F-22s, THAADs and other advanced weapons systems from the US.

  • Pete

    Hmmm… an unconfirmed rumour from an unidentified person about an unidentified country. Looks like the US has 'smoking gun, slam dunk' evidence to invade another 3rd world oil rich Arab country of its choosing. For the reason, well wern't they attacked by the Yemens?. OK. so the Yemenis are safe, but who must pay….?

  • Ambarish

    Well the commenters who “really see too much of an issue with the Saudis having a nuclear capability” are obviously very sure that those nukes (if and when they come into existence) wont work; otherwise I just pity such naivette.

  • Pat Flannery

    Turkey? They have been indicating they are reassessing their relationship with NATO in general, and the US, Syria, and Israel in particular.

    • Fred

      According to the Bible, Turkey will be with Russia and Iran with several other muslim nations that come against Israel. Actually they are the last nation missing from the Ezekiel 38 prophesy that is currently an “ally”. All the other nations listed are already very anti-Israel…

      • J Weich

        If the Israelis keep trying to make biblical prophesy happen, we are all doomed. So rather than going along with it, perhaps we should nip it in the bud and shut Israeli expansionist ambitions down. Perhaps then they could become productive members of the world society and stop being such arrogant and destructive assholes.

  • Wembley

    Is there any reason to think he’s not just talking about the already-known Syrian program?

    • Pat Flannery

      Would Syria try to do it again though? Israel will obviously be keeping them under a microscope from now on, and any attempt to build something will get noticed, and probably result in another bombing raid.
      I can’t see any reason why Egypt would want one, as they don’t have any real mortal enemies in the area.
      Saudi Arabia is a possibility if they think Iran is going to get nukes, due to the whole Shia/Sunni aspect.
      If Turkey is considering dropping out of NATO, they would want one to replace the nuclear umbrella they enjoyed while in NATO, as well as a mark of national pride, much the way France developed a independent nuclear force during the 1960s to avoid the constraints of the NATO “dual key” concept where the US had a say in nuclear weapons use by other NATO members.

  • David

    Sorry. I don’t trust Israel with nukes. They have said they will do “anything” 4 their survival. Does anything mean killing millions of “enemy” civilians in order that the state of Israel survives????

  • ruger

    They are buying the technology through Pakistan and North Korean. SA and Syria respectively.
    If anyone has read any one of a number of retired detachment delta people they always write some value information about real threats and capabilities.

  • ruger

    I use the word buy loosely - think in terms of leasing the weapon or pay the guys to maintain it and store it for free. That eliminates a pair from my previous list. If you know what I mean.

  • Rollo

    When I got a wiff of some intel, about a year or so ago, that an unnamed Middle Eastern country may have obtained “nuclear capabilities” I knew it was not talking about Iran. Question then; Which country in that region has the capabilities for going nuclear? Egypt is too poor, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are too tied to the West to risk such a venture, the other Arab States lacked the financial and intellectual capital to pull such a thing off, yet with the exclusion of Syria. Syria clearly has the money, and we know for a fact that days prior to the US invasion of Iraq, dozens of Iraqi scientists hightailed it to Syria. So Syria has both the cash and now the brain trust to create the products of a nuclear program.