Obama Starts Mid-East Nuke Race As Israel Says Gulf States Pursuing Bombs

Back in October, we asked the following: “Did Obama Just Set Off A Global Nuclear Arms Race By Signing The Iran Deal?

On the surface that seems like an oxymoronic headline. After all, the nuclear accord is supposed to be about curbing nuclear proliferation, not setting off an arms race.

Unfortunately, one of the frightening ironies of the deal is that it's causing some states to reconsider commitments they made to the US with regard to nuclear weapons development. “In barely noticed testimony last month, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the UAE's ambassador in Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, had informed him in a telephone call that the country no longer felt bound by its previous nuclear agreement with the United States,” AP reported last autumn.

"He told me, 'Your worst enemy has achieved this right to enrich. It's a right to enrich now that your friends are going to want, too, and we won't be the only country,'" Royce said in a phone interview.

In so-called 123 agreements, the US agrees to share materials, technology, and equipment for producing nuclear energy in exchange for a pledge from the receiving country not to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel to extract plutonium.

As you can see, the US has quite a few 123 agreements with a whole host of countries.

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Korea, Republic of (ROK)
  • Morocco
  • Norway
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates

Broadly speaking, some countries are concerned that Iran will go back on its obligations under to nuclear accord as the revenue starts to roll in and the country's economy begins to expand (Rouhani is aiming for 8% growth).

Critics of the deal also point to the recent test-firing of a next generation, surface-to-surface missile as proof positive of Iran's intent to skirt the spirit of the accord if not the letter.

On Sunday, in the latest sign that the crowning achievement of Obama's presidency is about to backfire in dramatic fashion, Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon claimed Sunni Arab nations are moving ahead with plans to aquire nuclear weapons. "We see signs that countries in the Arab world are preparing to acquire nuclear weapons, that they are not willing to sit quietly with Iran on brink of a nuclear or atomic bomb," he said, after meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah.

And he didn't stop there. "If at a certain stage they feel confident, particularly economically, they are liable to make a break for the bomb," Ya'alon claimed, referencing Iran's windfall crude profits. "15 years is just around the corner," he warned, a reminder to the world that the deal to limit Iran's nuclear enrichment has an expiration date.

"He did not specify which Arab nations were making nuclear preparations but Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Sunni states, is considered the most likely candidate [as] its vast oil wealth could help fund a nuclear programme while its ties with Pakistan, a nuclear power, could provide technical expertise," The Telegraph adds. "The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also has oil money and is already building a civilian nuclear power programme, though there is no evidence it is moving to develop weapons."

Ya'alon went on to say that although relations between Israel and the Sunni world are frosty thanks to Israel's approach to the West Bank and Gaza, there are always back channels. “I speak about the Gulf states and North African states too. Unfortunately they are not here to listen. For them, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are the enemy. Iran is the bad guy for us and for the Sunni regimes. They are not shaking hands [with Israelis] in public, but we meet in closed rooms.”

What exactly it is that the Israelis and the the Gulf states are discussing in these "closed rooms" is an open question but what we do know is that both Israel and Saudi Arabia felt a deep sense of betrayal when Obama signed on the dotted line and shook hands with Iran.