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How to Steer the Saudi Crown Prince Away from a Nuclear Weapon

In a recent 60 Minutes interview the Saudi crown prince, the effective ruler, cast a new light on the proposed U.S.-Saudi nuclear energy cooperation agreement that he and the Trump administration would like to seal: “Without a doubt,” the prince said, “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

The prince’s threat to break the agreement to match “as soon as possible” a move by Saudi Arabia’s bitter rival makes clear he wants a ready nuclear weapons option. This goes a long way toward explaining Saudi insistence that the agreement leave the door open to Saudi enrichment of uranium. A domestic centrifuge facility (the preferred enrichment technology) would provide quick access to explosive levels of enriched uranium, and thus to weapons.

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