Saudi warns of nuke arms race in Mideast
Al Faisal warns of a nuclear arms race involving Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Egypt.An influential member of the Saudi royal family warned yesterday that unless the Middle East becomes a nuclear weapon-free zone, a nuclear arms race is inevitable and could include his own country, Iraq, Egypt and even Turkey.
Prince Turki Al Faisal said the five permanent U.N. Security Council members should guarantee a nuclear security umbrella for Mideast countries that join a nuclear-free zone and impose “military sanctions” against countries seen to be developing nuclear weapons. “I think that’s a better way of going at this issue of nuclear enrichment of uranium, or preventing Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD),” the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the U.S. and Britain said in an interview with The Associated Press. The Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran, mainly targeting its defense and nuclear establishment, but Tehran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment and enter negotiations on its nuclear activities.
Turki warned that if there is no WMD-free zone in the Mideast, “inevitably” there is going to be a nuclear arms race “and that’s not going to be in the favor of anybody.” The Gulf states are committed not to acquire WMD, he said. “But we’re not the only players in town. You have Turkey. You have Iraq which has a track record of wanting to go nuclear. You have Egypt. They had a very vibrant nuclear energy program from the 1960s. You have Syria. You have other players in the area that could open Pandora’s box.”
Meanwhile Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday Iran is ready for nuclear talks with the world powers amid toughening sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to sharply scale back its nuclear program. He, however, said sanctions won’t force Iran to capitulate to Western demands.