Who could have seen this coming? Practically everyone outside the Obama administration, that’s who, but these days it would have been a Logan Act violation to mention it. Saudi Arabia has cut a deal with South Korea to develop two nuclear reactors in the next 20 years, putting Iran’s chief opponent in the region to play a little nuclear escalateo with Tehran:
As U.S. and Iranian diplomats inched toward progress on Tehran’s nuclear program last week, Saudi Arabia quietly signed its own nuclear-cooperation agreement with South Korea.
That agreement, along with recent comments from Saudi officials and royals, is raising concerns on Capitol Hill and among U.S. allies that a deal with Iran, rather than stanching the spread of nuclear technologies, risks fueling it.
Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a member of the royal family, has publicly warned in recent months that Riyadh will seek to match the nuclear capabilities Iran is allowed to maintain as part of any final agreement reached with world powers. This could include the ability to enrich uranium and to harvest the weapons-grade plutonium discharged in a nuclear reactor’s spent fuel. …
The memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabia and South Korea includes a plan to study the feasibility of building two nuclear reactors worth $2 billion in the Arab country over the next 20 years, according to Saudi state media.
Consider this a vote of no confidence from the Saudis in the Iranian deal Barack Obama and John Kerry are crafting with Tehran. The Saudis see Iran as the greatest threat to peace in the region, and for good reason. While they pay lip service to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the biggest issue for Sunni nations is the spread of Iranian influence and terrorism. They have long had control of Syria and Lebanon, and now Iranian proxies have conducted a coup in Yemen, directly in Saudi Arabia’s back yard.
Before now, they’ve at least been able to count on the US and Europe to economically contain Iran, as well as pressure them to end their nuclear-weapons program. Now, though, the P5+1 group has let Tehran off the leash economically to a large extent, and their deal proposes nothing better than a status quo freeze for the next ten years. For Western democracies, ten years is a political lifetime, but in the Middle East, it’s a blink — and the deal is a clear signal from Obama that he’s not interested in anything except a short-term claim to a foreign-policy win.
Not only does that undermine Saudi confidence in the US, but so does its policies in Iraq. Obama pulled out of Iraq and left Nouri al-Maliki in charge to conduct a Shi’ite purge of Sunnis (and Kurds), which led to the collapse of the Iraqi military in which the US had invested so much time and treasure. Obama then put together a small coalition of Sunni nations to fight the Sunni extremists of ISIS, but balked at pushing out Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad out of Syria — and now wants to encourage Iran to conduct military operations in Iraq against ISIS.
It’s become clear to the Saudis and other Sunni nations that Obama’s foreign policy is Iranophile to the point of Western suicide. The US effort in thwarting Iran always had two big motivations: to keep Iran from breaking out as a nuclear power, and to convince the other regimes not to follow suit through confidence in our long-term commitment to the region. This deal signals the end of that era, not because the US has dropped its own lip service to that mission, but because our putative allies simply don’t trust us to follow through. And looking at our track record over the last six years, with Iraq and Libya both failed states and incubators for Islamist terror … who can blame them?