And now, for your latest Nerve-Wracking News from the Near East!
<Cut to anchorman in plaid blazer with synthetic grin>
The rumor has started to circulate – (Confirmed by UPI, denied by the governments involved, no clear word yet from other journalistic sources) – that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have concluded a deal by which Pakistan will station nuclear weapons on Saudi territory, offering them an (Islamic) nuclear umbrella to replace the American defense which has been increasingly pulling out of the country since this past summer. The deal is apparently a straight oil for nukes swap. Linked story above has good overall analysis, or see Google News reports for other stories.
In sync with this, Iran has agreed to permit nuclear inspections. While definitely a step in the right direction, there are fairly widespread concerns that this is too little, too late – the program may already be at the point where it is easily concealable. Israel’s chief of military intelligence advised the Knesset today that their program could reach the “point of no return” in bomb development within ten months, even given this inspections regime.
Combine this with heatups in politics [the Palestinian attack on American officials in Gaza a few days ago, various kinds of increased tension in Iraq, new pronunciamentos from bin Laden, the start of winter (and the corresponding drop in temperature to humanly sustainable levels), and even things like Malaysian PM Mahathir‘s and American LGEN Boykin‘s respective bits of brilliant statesmanship], it looks like it’s going to be a hell of a winter…