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Until now, the assumption in Washington was that Saudi Arabia was content to remain under the US nuclear umbrella. But the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US has steadily worsened since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington: 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi.
It is not known whether Saudi Arabia has taken a decision on any of the three options. But the fact that it is prepared to contemplate the nuclear option is a worrying development.
United Nations officials and nuclear arms analysts said the Saudi review reflected profound insecurities generated by the volatility in the Middle East, Riyadh's estrangement with Washington and the weakening of its reliance on the US nuclear umbrella.
They pointed to the Saudi worries about an Iranian prog-ramme and to the absence of any international pressure on Israel, which has an estimated 200 nuclear devices.
Originally posted by Countermeasures
Funny that in a sense, the Saoudis and Tel Aviv are allies because they both in bed with America, yet officially they are like water and fire, I guess greed for money can overcome all differences in faith...
The Saudis already have in place a foundation for building a nuclear weapons deterrent. In the mid-1980s, they clandestinely negotiated the purchase of about 50 to 60 Chinese CSS-2 missiles. The Chinese and Saudis were able to complete the deal before American intelligence was wise to the relationship. The Saudis paid handsomely, with about $3 billion to $3.5 billion dollars for the Chinese missiles capable of reaching up to about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles). The CSS-2s had been armed with nuclear warheads when they were operational in the Chinese force structure, but Riyadh and Beijing claim that the missiles delivered to Saudi Arabia were armed with conventional warheads and rebuffed U.S. requests to inspect the missiles.