Saudi Arabia Will Build Nuclear Weapons IF Iran Gets Them, Saudi Prince Warns

Prospect of a nuclear conflict in the Middle East is raised by senior diplomat and member of the Saudi ruling family

A senior Saudi Arabian diplomat and member of the ruling royal family
has raised the spectre of nuclear conflict in the Middle East if Iran
comes close to developing a nuclear weapon.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador
to Washington, warned senior Nato military officials that the existence
of such a device “would compel Saudi Arabia … to pursue policies which
could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences”.

He did not state explicitly what these policies would be, but a senior
official in Riyadh who is close to the prince said yesterday his message
was clear.

“We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we
don’t. It’s as simple as that,” the official said. “If Iran develops a
nuclear weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to
follow suit.”

Officials in Riyadh said that Saudi Arabia would reluctantly push ahead
with its own civilian nuclear programme. Peaceful use of nuclear power,
Turki said, was the right of all nations.

Turki was speaking earlier this month at an unpublicised meeting at RAF
Molesworth, the airbase in Cambridgeshire used by Nato as a centre for
gathering and collating intelligence on the Middle East and the
Mediterranean.

According to a transcript of his speech obtained by the Guardian, Turki
told his audience that Iran was a “paper tiger with steel claws” that
was “meddling and destabilising” across the region.

“Iran … is very sensitive about other countries meddling in its affairs.
But it should treat others like it expects to be treated. The kingdom
expects Iran to practise what it preaches,” Turki said.

Turki holds no official post in Saudi Arabia but is seen as an
ambassador at large for the kingdom and a potential future foreign
minister,

Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and published by the Guardian
last year revealed that King Abdullah, who has ruled Saudi Arabia since
2005, had privately warned Washington in 2008 that if Iran developed
nuclear weapons “everyone in the region would do the same, including
Saudi Arabia”.

Saudi Arabian diplomats and officials have launched a serious campaign
in recent weeks to rally global and regional powers against Iran,
fearful that their country’s larger but poorer regional rival is
exploiting the Arab Spring to gain influence in the region and within
the kingdom itself.

Turki also accused Iran of interfering in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and in
the Gulf state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops were deployed this year as
part of a Gulf Co-operation Council force following widespread protests
from those calling for greater democratic rights.

Though there has previously been little public comment from Riyadh on
developments in Syria, Turki told his audience at Molesworth that
President Bashar al-Assad “will cling to power till the last Syrian is
killed”.

Syria presents a dilemma for Saudi policymakers: although they would
prefer not to see popular protest unseat another regime in the region,
they view the Damascus regime, which is dominated by members of Syria’s
Shia minority, as a proxy for Iran.

“The loss of life [in Syria] in the present internal struggle is
deplorable. The government is woefully deficient in its handling of the
situation,” Turki said at the Molesworth meeting, which took place on 8
June.

Though analysts say demonstrations in Bahrain were not sectarian in
nature, two senior Saudi officials in Riyadh said this week that Tehran
had mobilised the largely Shia protesters against the Sunni rulers of
the Gulf state. Iran has a predominantly Shia population. Around 15% of
Saudis are Shia. The officials described this minority, which suffers
extensive discrimination despite recent attempts at reform, as
“vulnerable to external influence”.

Though there has been negligible unrest internally, Saudi Arabia has
been shaken by the events across the Arab world in recent months and has
watched anxiously as a number of allies – such as President Hosni
Mubarak – have been ousted or have found themselves in grave
difficulties. President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is being treated in a
Saudi Arabian hospital for wounds caused by a mysterious blast that
forced him to leave his country this month.

The former Tunisian ruler Zine al-Abedine ben Ali, whose relations with
Riyadh were complex, is reported to have been housed in a luxurious
villa in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah after he fled his homeland for
Saudi Arabia.

Saudi officials admitted that decision-makers in Saudi Arabia were “not
keen” on demonstrators ousting governments, but said they were “even
less keen on killing and massacres”.

Turki also warned that al-Qaida has been able to create “a sanctuary not unlike Pakistan’s tribal areas” in Yemen.

Saudi Arabian foreign policy historically has been pro-western, although
differences have emerged with the United States in recent years. The
Arab Spring has also caused some tension, with the deployment of troops
in Bahrain opposed by Washington.

Turki also accused Iran of interfering in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and in
the Gulf state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops were deployed this year as
part of a Gulf Co-operation Council force following widespread protests
from those calling for greater democratic rights.

Though there has previously been little public comment from Riyadh on
developments in Syria, Turki told his audience at Molesworth that
President Bashar al-Assad “will cling to power till the last Syrian is
killed”.

Syria presents a dilemma for Saudi policymakers: although they would
prefer not to see popular protest unseat another regime in the region,
they view the Damascus regime, which is dominated by members of Syria’s
Shia minority, as a proxy for Iran.

“The loss of life [in Syria] in the present internal struggle is
deplorable. The government is woefully deficient in its handling of the
situation,” Turki said at the Molesworth meeting, which took place on 8
June.

Though analysts say demonstrations in Bahrain were not sectarian in
nature, two senior Saudi officials in Riyadh said this week that Tehran
had mobilised the largely Shia protesters against the Sunni rulers of
the Gulf state. Iran has a predominantly Shia population. Around 15% of
Saudis are Shia. The officials described this minority, which suffers
extensive discrimination despite recent attempts at reform, as
“vulnerable to external influence”.

Though there has been negligible unrest internally, Saudi Arabia has
been shaken by the events across the Arab world in recent months and has
watched anxiously as a number of allies – such as President Hosni
Mubarak – have been ousted or have found themselves in grave
difficulties. President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen is being treated in a
Saudi Arabian hospital for wounds caused by a mysterious blast that
forced him to leave his country this month.

The former Tunisian ruler Zine al-Abedine ben Ali, whose relations with
Riyadh were complex, is reported to have been housed in a luxurious
villa in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah after he fled his homeland for
Saudi Arabia.

Saudi officials admitted that decision-makers in Saudi Arabia were “not
keen” on demonstrators ousting governments, but said they were “even
less keen on killing and massacres”.

Turki also warned that al-Qaida has been able to create “a sanctuary not unlike Pakistan’s tribal areas” in Yemen.

Saudi Arabian foreign policy historically has been pro-western, although
differences have emerged with the United States in recent years. The
Arab Spring has also caused some tension, with the deployment of troops
in Bahrain opposed by Washington.

 Read More At:
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/29/saudi-build-nuclear-weapons-iran