Five places where World War III could break out

The ongoing situation in the Middle East—whether it’s the Islamic State, Iraq, Gaza, Syria, Iran, Israel, Lebanon or the fallout from the Arab Spring—is so perplexing, confusing, horrific and insurmountable that the only thing we can say in its favor is that at least it has not led to World War Three.

For this to happen, the nuclear balance in the region would have to go irrevocably out of kilter. One obvious way this could happen: Iran getting the bomb and in response, Israel using its “widely suspected unmentionables.”

Another possibility deserving more scrutiny than it gets is whether the Saudis would upgrade their DF-3 ballistic missiles with DF-21s—something that is heavily rumored—or fit the older, less accurate DF-3s with nuclear warheads.

Another element of this scenario is the question of which way these missiles would be pointed—at Iran or Israel?

Other regional wildcards include the North Koreans helping out the Assad regime, or the Islamic State somehow capturing a previously unknown stockpile of fissile material and having the brainpower to weaponize it.

In this light, U.S. attempts to prevent Iran from getting the bomb make even more sense; why it is not equally scrutinizing Saudi Arabia’s intentions in this area, less so.