Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2014

Nuclear Kingdom: Saudi Arabia's Atomic Ambitions

Olli Heinonen, Simon Henderson

March 2014

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy


Although Iran's nuclear potential will likely dominate talks between President Obama and King Abdullah on March 29, Riyadh's own nuclear plans should also be part of the discussion. A major probable consequence of Iran achieving a nuclear weapons capability is that Saudi Arabia will seek to match it. With President Obama currently rating the chances of diplomatic success as 50-50 and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei giving a "zero" probability, this weekend's U.S.-Saudi summit will be an opportunity to check whether Saudi planning can help the diplomacy rather than hinder it.