Saudis Say They'll Keep Up With Iran in Nuke War
Obama meeting with Arab leaders today to assure them of Middle East security
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2015 12:00 PM CDT
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 13, 2015.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – President Obama is convening with six Arab leaders today at Camp David, hoping to assure them that a deal between the West and Iran to contain the latter country's nuclear efforts won't compromise the security of the Middle East. But the Saudis already seem to be balking, announcing they have every intention to keep up with the Joneses in their region and maintain similar nuclear capabilities as Iran, the New York Times reports. "We can't sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research," an Arab leader who didn't want to be named until he had his audience with the president told the Times. And Prince Turki bin Faisal, an ex-chief of Saudi intelligence, recently said at a Seoul press conference, "Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too."

It wouldn't exactly be simple for the Saudis to proliferate in the nuclear arena without help, the Times notes: The Nuclear Suppliers Group, which tries to keep such programs in check by controlling nuclear component exports, refuses to send product to the Middle East, meaning Saudi Arabia would likely have only North Korea and Pakistan as source options. Meanwhile, the lukewarm feelings of Arab leaders toward Obama are quite evident: A few of the heads of state are sending lower-level reps to the meeting today (notably, Saudi King Salman, who pulled out just a few days ago), and Prince Turki issued a past-tense lament in the Times: "We were America's best friend in the Arab world for 50 years." (Benjamin Netanyahu definitely isn't on Iran's side.)