The Strategist

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Rivalry Leads to Nuclear Threats

03/17/2015 - 14:14

If an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program fail, Saudi Arabia, too, will start its nuclear program, Riyadh said. The Saudis have always promised to respond to bomb bomb, but right now, when the negotiations are near to the completion, this issue is particularly troubling them. It threatens the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the entire Middle East.

On Monday, an influential member of the royal family, the former head of Saudi intelligence Turki bin Faisal said that if Iran gets the right to develop nuclear program, Riyadh will seek the same rights, reports the British . Saudi Arabia now has the status of a nuclear-free state.

- I have always said - no matter what happened as a result of these negotiations, we want the same. If Iran achieves the ability to enrich uranium to any level, then not just Saudi Arabia, but many will want to go this way, - said the Saudi prince.

- Iran has played a destructive role in various Arab countries - Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Bahrain - said bin Faisal.

- So a new kind of weapons of mass destruction possession will only add to our problems with Iran. Saudi Prince emphasized the negative, in his opinion, Iran's role in Middle Eastern affairs. Turki bin Faisal said that Tehran is actively supporting Shiite militias in the fight against "Islamic state" in Iraq, thereby increasing its influence in the country. Moreover, Iranian generals are already participating in hostilities. "It looks as if Iran extends the occupation of Iraq, which is unacceptable". 

Turki bin Faisal does not currently hold any official positions in Saudi Arabia, but he is considered as one of the most influential people of the kingdom. Bin Faisal, the youngest son of the king, is now regarded as an unofficial ambassador of the Saudi government, the newspaper notes.

Such statements from Riyadh do not sound for the first time. Saudi Arabia has already indicated that it would develop a nuclear program, if the negotiations with Iran fail. As noted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing its sources in the US State Department, the first time this position was expressed by the late Saudi King Abdullah in 2012. Then he said briefly and clearly: "If they get a nuclear weapon, we will also make a nuclear bomb."

Another deadlock

Saudi Prince statement was made at a time when the negotiations between the US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Iran's nuclear program Swiss city of Lausanne took place, writes The Guardian on Monday 16 of March. The newspaper notes that the ministers "are trying to use the latest attempt to negotiate before its time is over." Recall, that six international mediators (US, France, Russia, Britain, China and Germany) and Iran should come to a decision before March 31.
On the eve of the talks, US President Barack Obama, trying to escape from another failure, made a proposal. March 3, he said that the conclusion of a final agreement on Iran's nuclear program is possible if Tehran suspends its term for at least 10 years. The Iranian leadership did not like the proposal. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called it unacceptable.

The nuclear issue was trying to solve US Secretary of State John Kerry. March 7, after talks in Paris with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, he stressed the need to achieve a reliable agreement on Iran, saying Tehran must show the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program. Then he visited Riyadh to persuade the leaders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries that the United States does not accept any agreement, if it does not force Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons.

In response, Kerry heard concerns of Arab states heads about the armed Shiite groups in the region and the growing influence of Iran. On 8 March, the head of Iran diplomacy Mohammad Zarif said that the probability of the conclusion of "nuclear deal" of Iran and the international mediators is greater than 50%.

Meanwhile, six international negotiators argues that the measures are sufficient to restrict the development of Tehran's nuke. However, critics of the plan say that the Islamic Republic should completely dismantle its nuclear program, in order not to provoke a regional arms race based on the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.