Is Saudi Arabia a nuclear threat?
McDowell, Steven R.
Lavoy, Peter R.
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ith a relatively small populace against several regional adversaries. The 1979 Iranian Revolution and subsequent overthrow of the Shah, a U.S. ally, sent shockwaves across the Gulf states and prompted the Saudis to increase defense spending and purchase the longest-range ballistic missile in the Gulf region: the Chinese CSS-2. These missiles have since reached the end of their lifecycle and the Saudi regime is now considering their replacement. This thesis examines the potential for the Saudis to replace their aging missile force with a nuclear-tipped inventory. The United States has provided for the external security of the oil Kingdom through informal security agreements, but a deterioration in U.S.-Saudi relations may compel the Saudis to acquire nuclear weapons in order to deter the ballistic missile and WMD threats posed by its regional adversaries. Saudi Arabia has been a key pillar of the U.S. strategy in the Persian Gulf. However, a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia would undermine the international nonproliferation regime and would trigger a destabilizing arms race in the region.
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