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      Saudis Threaten Nuclear Arms Race, Again

      Saudi prince Turki al-Faisal has warned Riyadh will seek nuclear weapons if Iran obtains them - uses Israel as an excuse.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 12/6/2011, 1:13 AM

      For the second time in five months, former Saudi Arabian intelligence chief and diplomat Prince Turki al Faisal on Monday raised the specter of a nuclear arms race between Riyadh and Tehran.

      "Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran... therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons," Prince Turki told a security forum in Riyadh.

      "A [nuclear] disaster befalling one of us would affect us all," said Prince Turki.

      Analysts say Turki's inclusion of Israel in his remarks on Monday was unusual, as Jerusalem has been widely believed to possess nuclear arms for decades - which Israel neither confirms nor denies - without prompting Riyadh to pursue nuclear weapons in response. 

      Instead, analysts say, mentioning Israel is likely a populist attempt to garner support from Arab allies as Riyadh faces off with its arch-rival for regional hegemony, Iran.

      Turki's warning in July that Riyadh would seek nuclear weapons in specifically focused Iran's nuclear ambitions and made no mention of Israel whatsoever. The West and Gulf Arab nations maintain Iran is actively seeking nuclear weapons - a charge Tehran denies.

      However, a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cited "credible intelligence reports" that Tehran was actively seeking nuclear technology with dedicated military applications. It also criticized Iran for obstructing inspection efforts at its nuclear sites under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

      The United Nations has imposed successive packages of sanctions against Tehran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

      Those measures have been backed up by numerous rafts of western sanctions.

      Abdul Gani Malibari, coordinator at the Saudi civil nuclear agency, said in June that Riyadh plans to build 16 civilian nuclear reactors in the next two decades - which could serve as a platform from which to seek nuclear weapons.