Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister

Dubai: On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbors would act to strengthen their security if Tehran acquires nuclear weapons.

Indirect US-Iranian talks to save the 2015 nuclear deal between global powers and Iran, which Washington pulled out in 2018, stalled in September. The UN nuclear chief has expressed concern over Tehran’s recent announcement that it is increasing its enrichment capacity.

“If Iran gets an operational nuclear weapon, all bets are off,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said in an on-stage interview at the World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi when asked about such a scenario. “We are in a very dangerous space in the region…you can expect that regional states will certainly look towards how they can ensure their security.”

The nuclear talks have stalled with Western powers accusing Iran of raising unfair demands and focus shifting to the Russia-Ukraine war as well as domestic unrest in Iran over the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Though Riyadh remained skeptical about the Iran nuclear deal, Prince Faisal said it supported efforts to resuscitate the pact on condition that it be a starting point, not an endpoint for a stronger deal with Tehran.

Sunni-ruled Gulf Arab states have pressed for a stronger agreement that tends to their concerns about Shi’ite Iran’s missiles and drones’ program and network of regional proxies.

“The signs right now are not very positive, unfortunately,” Prince Faisal said.

“We hear from the Iranians that they have no interest in a nuclear weapons program, it would be very comforting to be able to believe that. We need more assurance on that level.”

Iran says its nuclear technology is solely for civil purposes. On Saturday, a senior Emirati official said that there was an opportunity to revisit the whole concept of the nuclear pact given the current spotlight on Tehran’s weapons with Western states accusing Russia of using Iranian drones to attack targets in Ukraine. Iran and Russia deny the charges.

By Archana

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