If negotiations with Iran fail, Saudi may go nuclear

Saudi Ambassador to London says Iran's policy to acquire WMDs has changed regional outlook


Web Desk June 08, 2015
A file photo of Tehran's research reactor centre. PHOTO: AFP

Following a military intervention in Yemen and having beaten Britain into fourth place in the world’s military spending league, Saudi Arabia is all set to become a part of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East with “all options on the table” if Iran fails to resolve the international stand-off over its nuclear programme.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to London, says the Kingdom has upheld steered clear from pursuing a policy of developing nuclear weapons for years but things have changed now.

“Then it became known that Iran was pursuing a policy that could be shifted to a weapons-of-mass-destruction programme,” Prince Mohammed told The Telegraph in an exclusive interview. “This has changed the whole outlook in the region.”

Saudi Arabia hopes the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue will provide assurances Tehran does not wish to build a nuclear bomb.

“We have always expressed our support for resolving the Iranian nuclear file in a diplomatic way and through negotiation,” said Prince Mohammed. “We commend the Obama’s effort in this regard, provided that any deal reached is watertight and is not the kind of deal that offers Iran a licence to continue its destabilising foreign policies in the region. The proof is in the pudding.”

Negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the US, UK, France, China and Russia and Germany – are due to be concluded by the end of June. Negotiators are pressing Tehran to freeze key elements of its uranium-enrichment cycle – which can be used to produce nuclear warheads – in return for easing the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

As Iran has yet to make any significant concessions on its nuclear programme, there are fears in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that the US is more interested in reaching an accommodation with reformists in Iran than in standing by America’s traditional allies in the Arab world.

Read: ‘Baseless’campaign: FO rebuffs report on Saudi ‘nuclear deal’

Prince Mohammed insists the negotiations must produce serious commitments from Iran not to produce nuclear weapons.

“We hope to receive assurances that Iran will not pursue this kind of weapon,” he said. “But if this does not happen, all options will be on the table for Saudi Arabia.

“Iran’s nuclear programme poses a direct threat to the entire region and constitutes a major source and incentive for nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, including Israel.”

Western intelligence agencies believe the Saudi monarchy paid for up to 60 per cent of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, in return for the ability to buy warheads for itself at short notice.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, however, hotly denied last week that the country could sell Saudi Arabia an “off-the-shelf” nuclear weapon, after days of high-level talks in Washington.

Read: Pakistan denies Saudi nuclear sale

Any failure by Iran to provide the necessary safeguards by the end of this month could see Riyadh activate that deal, thereby enabling Saudi Arabia to become the Arab world’s first nuclear power. Other regional powers, such as Egypt and Turkey may also follow suit.

However, the Saudi ambassador dismissed reports Saudi Arabia has plans for regional domination.

“Saudi Arabia does not have the same ambitions for the region as others do,” he said in a reference to Iran. “All we care for is the preservation of our stability and security, and that of the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

COMMENTS (6)

Faizan Maqbool | 6 years ago | Reply @Ashraf: Rightly put, and that aside, Saudis' are cultural pygmies compared to the Persians.
amir | 6 years ago | Reply has anybody tried to analyse why Pakistan is always in news for wrong reasons, from nuclear proliferation to source of terrorism. For those who can understand genesis lay is in social structuring , WHERE END JUSTIFY MEANS and ambition are nurtured beyond capabilities.
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