“If they get nuclear weapons, we will get nuclear weapons.”

— That’s what Saudi Arabian King Abdullah told long-time U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross would happen if Iran gets atomic weaponry. It’s the first confirmed declaration that Tehran’s membership in the atomic club would trigger proliferation elsewhere in the region. Ross relayed the 2009 statement by the Saudi king while on a book tour.

It’s a key point long overlooked in America’s focus on the threat an Iranian nuke would pose to Israel, and will play a role in any U.S. decision to take out Iran’s nuclear efforts militarily. The Saudis belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, while the Iranians belong to the Shiite sect. That rivalry could top the Arab-v.-Israel, India-v.-Pakistan or U.S.-v.-the-Soviet-Union that have long been considered the most likely flashpoints for nuclear war.

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