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Saudi Arabia would not ‘sit idly by’ if West fails with Iran

The Saudi ambassador to Britain said the presence of nuclear weapons in Middle East from either Israel or Iran is “unacceptable”

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK said on Friday that the kingdom would not “sit idly by” if world powers fail to halt Iran’s nuclear program, calling the Obama administration’s “rush” to embrace Tehran as “incomprehensible.”

“We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region,” Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, who is the Saudi ambassador to the UK and King Abdullah’s nephew, told British newspaper The Times.

“Let’s just leave it there, all options are available,” he said, referring to possible defense plans made in response to Iran developing its nuclear capability.

Prince Mohammed was speaking as negotiators from six world powers are in talks with their Iranian counterparts in Geneva in an attempt to get Tehran to commit to downgrading its nuclear program in return for several sanctions being lifted.

While both the Saudi and Israeli government are keen to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, Prince Mohammed said that Israel should also have to show that its nuclear program is peaceful.

“The whole region will suffer from producing these weapons,” said the ambassador.

“It happens ¬everyone is talking about Iran, but ¬Israel also has to prove that their program is a peaceful program, as we are demanding from the Iranians,” he added.

No such concept

In order to ensure security in the Middle East, the international community should push Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, Prince Mohammed told The Times.

“The idea of introducing these weapons in the region is unacceptable to us and this concept of total security is a dream, there is no such thing… The total security of one country is the insecurity of another — that has to be understood,” he said.

Last month, Saudi Arabia rejected a seat on the United Nations Security Council - a position it would have occupied for the first time - partly due to frustrations of the U.N.’s failure to act on the Syrian conflict.

“We feel we have been let down and hence this is why we are asserting ourselves, making the message loud and clear,” said Prince Mohammed.

While Saudi Arabia is known to support certain Syrian rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, he stated that the kingdom’s goals were not to fund jihadists with the aim of turning the country into an Islamic nation.

“Our aim is very clear: [a] Sunni, Shia or Christian president is not the ¬issue. The issue is that the President of Syria is brutalizing his own people,” he said.