Middle East

Saudi prince: Iran deal could prompt nuclear fuel race


By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal warned on Monday that a possible deal on Iran’s nuclear program will prompt Saudi Arabia and other states to seek the development of atomic technology.

“I’ve always said whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same,” he told the BBC in an interview.

“So if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that,” he added.

Ongoing negotiations between Tehran and six world powers are aimed at securing the outlines of a deal that limits Iran’s nuclear activity and seeks to assuage fears that it is using the fuel enrichment to covertly develop a nuclear weapon.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranian FM in new nuclear talks. (AP)

Saudi Arabia sees Iran as a regional rival and fears that an atomic deal would leave the door open for Tehran to gain nuclear weapons. There are also Saudi concerns that a deal would ease political pressure on Iran, giving it more space to back Arab proxies opposed by Riyadh.

Tehran, on the other hand, continues to deny that it is building nuclear weapons and wants to lift heavy international sanctions that have been levied against its economy.

“The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that’s my main objection to this P5+1 [the six world powers] process,” said Prince Turki, who served as Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief and Riyadh’s ambassador to Washington and London.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Riyadh earlier this month to reassure Saudi Arabia that the United States will not accept a deal that would allow Iran to build nuclear weapons.

Shi’ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi walk with their weapons on the southern edge of Tikrit March 12, 2015. (Reuters)

During his visit, Kerry and his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, warned of Iran’s “destabilizing” policies in the region and stressed on ensuring Tehran doesn’t acquire nuclear weapons.

On that note, Prince Turki said: “Iran is already a disruptive player in various scenes in the Arab world, whether it’s Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, or Bahrain.

“So ending fear of developing weapons of mass destruction is not going to be the end of the troubles we’re having with Iran.”

The prince also spoke of Iran’s role in Iraq fighting militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He stressed on Iran’s support for Iraqi Shiite militias fighting against ISIS.

“Now it seems that Iran is expanding its occupation of Iraq and that is unacceptable,” said Prince Turki.

[With Reuters]