May 30, 2012
Former senior U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross confirmed for the first time on Tuesday night that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has explicitly warned the U.S. that if Iran obtains nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will seek to do so as well.
“If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons,” Abdullah told Ross during a meeting between the two in April 2009. Ross said he responded to the King’s assertion with a lengthy appeal against nuclear proliferation, but after hearing him out, the king responded by repeating the same line: “If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons.”
Ross’ on-the-record confirmation of Abdullah’s threat was made in a joint public appearance with Washington Institute researcher David Makovsky at New York’s 92nd Street Y. The two co-authored a book on the Middle East peace process entitled Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East.
Ross’ direct quote of the Saudi king appears to be the first public confirmation of the Saudi position and the threat of a Middle East nuclear arms race if Tehran acquires a nuclear bomb. It was reported previously, though not confirmed, that Abdullah had made a similar assertion in his February 2007 summit in Riyadh with Russian President Vladimir Putin.