Nuclear Saudis? ‘All options on the table’ over Iran deal, Riyadh’s ambassador to UK warns
Saudi Arabia is ready to acquire nuclear weapons if diplomatic talks aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear ambitions break down, the Saudi ambassador to the UK has said.
Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud said the oil-rich Gulf kingdom hoped negotiations being led by US President Barack Obama would result in a “watertight” deal with Iran.
However if does not happen, then “all options are on the table,” he said.
Riyadh accuses Iran of destabilizing the region by funding Houthi rebels in Yemen, the site of a current proxy conflict between the two Middle Eastern powers.
Prince Mohammad’s threat came in an interview with The Telegraph published Monday.
Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, China and Russia (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) and Germany – are due to close at the end of June.
Diplomats are pressing Iran to stop key parts of its uranium enrichment program in return for an easing of sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.
Prince Mohammad told The Telegraph: “We have always expressed our support for resolving the Iranian nuclear file in a diplomatic way and through negotiation.”
“We commend the American president’s effort in this regard, provided that any deal reached is watertight and is not the kind of deal that offers Iran a license to continue its destabilizing foreign policies in the region. The proof is in the pudding.”
The Saudi ambassador said the kingdom hopes Iran will offer assurances it will not pursue nuclear weapons.
“But if this does not happen, then all options will be on the table for Saudi Arabia.”
“Iran’s nuclear program poses a direct threat to the entire region and constitutes a major source and incentive for nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, including Israel,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is believed to have funded up to 60 percent of Pakistan’s nuclear program, on the condition it could buy warheads at short notice.
If the Gulf state were to activate the deal, it would see Saudi Arabia become the first nuclear power in the Arab world.
The Saudi kingdom already has the fourth highest military expenditure in the world, surpassing Britain, which is in fifth place.
Its ongoing military onslaught in Yemen has seen it deploy 150,000 troops, while fighter jets have conducted devastating bombing raids on the small Arab state.
The ambassador’s warning over Iran comes after a senior Saudi official met with an Israeli diplomat in Washington to discuss their shared opposition to Tehran last week.
Retired Saudi major general Anwar Eshki and former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold held a press conference together at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“We’re both allies of the United States. I hope this is the beginning of more discussion about our common strategic problems,” Gold said.