Not so long ago we were presented with a media propaganda volley about how Iran is going force Saudi Arabia to "go nuclear" by perhaps purchasing nukes from Pakistan. Most of this hype was generated by a statement by Saudi prince (who was actually speaking in a private capacity and not on behalf of the Saudi gov't, since he had been essentially fired.)
Of course the media didn't pay much attention to the fact that according to even these reports, Saudi Arabia would only go nuclear if Iran actually make and tested a nuke, rather than merely having a developed civilian nuclear program. Naturally, the rather crucial distinction between nuclear capability and nuclear weapons is not something the media pays much attention to. But in any case I always thought it would be quite weird of the Saudi's to react like that to a supposed Iranian nuclear weapon rather than the actual, existing Israeli nukes. After all, I haven't heard any Saudi prince complain as loudly about the real, actual (Israeli) nuclear weapons.
Well, just recently, my suspicions about the actual Saudi view of the issue was sort of confirmed -- by Jack Straw, of all people. During question time in the British Parliament, this is what he had to say on that point:
The idea that Iran's nuclear program will start a chain of nuclear proliferation in the Mideast is one of the favorite talking points of the NeoCons (or just plain Cons, like Bolton) and unfortunately it gets repeated by others unthinkingly so that it has become conventional wisdom. After all, it is good fodder for generating hype. However there is no real wisdom in this claim. I wrote about this before:
[I]t is highly ironic that Iran’s mere capability to build nuclear weapons will supposedly spark this uncontrollable cascade of nuclear proliferation, and yet Israel’s existing nuclear weapons are not considered to have this effect. Indeed, if we are to assume, as the fallacious argument implies, that one country’s nuclear capability will force other countries to acquire their own nuclear deterrent, then the real regional culprit for proliferation must be the original nuclear power in the region—Israel. Note also that similar predictions of regional arms races have not been made when, for example, Brazil recently acquired the same nuclear technology that Iran is seeking to develop.