Saudi Arabia may become one of the next states to acquire nuclear weapons. The Saudis have the challenge of securing a large border area with a relatively small populace against several regional adversaries, The 1979 Iranian Revolution and subsequent overthrow of the Shah, a U.S. ally, sent shock waves 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 life cycle and the Saudi regime has since considered 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 capabilities of its regional adversaries. Saudi Arabia has been a key pillar of the U.S. strategy in the Persian Gulf however, a nuclear Saudi Arabia would undermine the efforts of the NPT and could potentially destabilize the Persian Gulf by initiating a new arms race in the region.
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