Reprinted from Asia Times
The serious possibility of a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 is only a few weeks away -- onJune 30.
So guess what the terminally paranoid House of Saud is up to: Lay their hands on a nuclear bomb to counteract the non-existent "Iranian bomb," which Tehran, via Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, has consistently abhorred as un-Islamic, and wouldn't have it anyway because of stringent inspections bound to be part of the final nuclear deal.
The proverbial "former Pentagon official" has leaked to a Rupert Murdoch paper that the House of Saud is bound to buy a ready-made nuclear bomb from Pakistan. The choice of media already offers a clue; Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is one of News Corporation's leading shareholders.
The "why now?" concerning the leak is pretty obvious. Yet the whodunit is hazier territory.
Meanwhile, adding fuel to the jihadi fire, as the Wahhabis in Riyadh dream of going -- literally -- nuclear, their faith brothers across "Syraq" are going figuratively nuclear, adding victory after victory on the ground; from the assault on Palmyra, the Silk Road-era jewel of the desert in Syria, to the fall of Ramadi in the former "triangle of death" in Iraq.
The "Iranian bomb" was never really an issue for successive U.S. administrations; only a convenient pretext to box in, harass, sanction and "isolate" the Islamic Republic, the former "gendarme" of the Gulf in the Shah era. The U.S. government always knew nuclear bombs can be bought on the black market; so whether Tehran could develop a nuclear weapon was irrelevant.
The House of Saud, for its part, may -- and the operative concept is "may" -- already have a bomb, for a long time now, to offset Israel. And they "may" have paid Islamabad for it. There is no conclusive proof.
What's certain is that the -- non-existent -- "Iranian bomb" is where the House of Saud, other GCC minions and, crucially, Bibi Netanyahu's extremist, fundamentalist Israeli government converge; they all consider it an "existential threat" to their survival.
The problem is we can't just dismiss outbursts of the type as mere instances of geopolitical surrealism. A running myth -- very popular in the Beltway -- goes that Riyadh's got some credit with Islamabad as the House of Saud invested billions of dollars in the 1970s to develop the Pakistani nuclear program, which was a counterpunch against the Indian nuclear program.
Already on December 2011, the House of Saud announced publicly that it was pursuing a nuclear bomb. But only as the possibility of an Iranian nuclear deal advanced they started to embark in a wag-the-dog attempt to control U.S. foreign policy.
Israel got into the game as early as November 2013, when the BBC reported on an alleged nuclear deal between Riyadh and Islamabad. A key quote was from a former head of Israeli military intel, Amos Yadlin; if Iran had a bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring."
Compare this with wily Prince Turki, former Saudi intelligence chief and close pal of one Osama bin Laden, who has always waved the possibility of a nuclear House of Saud. The last time was in fact in April, at the South Korean Asan Plenum; "Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too."
The new Godfather of the Riyadh mob, King Salman, wanted Islamabad to provide troops for his ongoing war on Yemen. Islamabad said thanks but no, thanks. Instead, a nuclear deal might -- and the operative word, once again, is "might" -- have been struck. Naturally no high-ranking official in Riyadh or Islamabad will confirm any of this.
Watch the Pakistani angle
King Salman is pretty much aware that in the event of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh achieving regime change in Syria -- still a pretty remote possibility -- the next in line would be the House of Saud.