Saudi Arabia's nuclear posture: is hedging the future?
Holloway, William F.
Dahl, Erik J.
Davis, Zachary S.
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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) leaves Iran with residual capabilities that positions it for the rapid development of nuclear weapons should it abandon the deal. This thesis examines how the JCPOA affects Saudi Arabia and what actions the Saudis are likely to take. The Saudi premise of whatever they have, we'll have in regard to Iran leans toward a Saudi Arabian nuclear hedging strategy, but is it feasible? This thesis proposes a model that explores the interaction of threat, domestic factors, and current international nonproliferation regimes and how they drive a nation toward nuclear hedging. The model is applied to the cases of Pakistan, a nuclear proliferate nation, and Japan, the archetypical hedging nation, and later to Saudi Arabia. This comparative case study finds that despite its national will, technological factors—such as an impoverished scientific community—make Saudi Arabia's nuclear hedging untenable at this time. In addition to technical capability, the presence or absence of strong alliances factor into the national decision to hedge or proliferate. This thesis concludes by offering insight into when the United States should reexamine the Saudi Arabian case and what it should consider if the Saudis consider nuclear optionality.
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