Balance of Power

While the development of nuclear power in Iran has drawn increased worldwide scrutiny, former Air Force Secretary Thomas Reed said Iran is not the only nation in the Persian Gulf capable of pursuing nuclear weapons. Saudi Arabia, he told attendees at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles, has more than enough resources to pursue a program, but so far has chosen not to. “They have no lab . . . but they have lots of money,” he said. Reed noted the little-known arms sale in the late 1980s when China sold 36 DF-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles to the Saudis. These missiles’ military utility is really for carrying nuclear warheads, due to their range and payload specifications, despite Saudi and Chinese claims that they are modified to carry only conventional warheads, he said during his Nov. 19 address. The Saudis likely would opt to buy nuclear warheads from Pakistan at the point they sense that the balance of power in the region has shifted—when the Iranians gain a nuclear capability, said Reed. Iran has demonstrated, rather than a terror state, it has imperial ambitions in the region and seeks larger influence and stature, the primary driver behind its nuclear quest, he noted.