Saudi Arabia says nuclear arms race in the Middle East ‘cannot be ruled out’
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, has said he “cannot rule out” a nuclear arms race in the region.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, he said the kingdom was concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme and wanted negotiations between Tehran and world powers to resume.
At a session titled Middle Men: The Geostrategic Role of Middle Eastern Countries, Prince Faisal said: “If one state gets nuclear weapons, especially one that has expressed aggression towards its neighbours, I think everyone will start thinking about how to protect themselves.
“I hope that never happens. If it is a genie that gets out, it will be very hard to put back into the bottle.
“We need to see a return to negotiations, but we need a holistic approach. We think we should be taking part in any future discussions. We feel it might be quite useful that we address this issue with our international partners.
“The GCC states who are most threatened by a nuclear Iran need to be engaged in those negotiations.
“We are concerned that discussions to return to the JCPOA [the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] have effectively stopped and that’s a huge risk to regional instability.”
Kuwait’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber Al Sabah, said his country was against nuclear weapons.
“We are big supporters of a nuclear-free Middle East,” he said.
“We are against any country in the region acquiring nuclear capabilities.”
Prince Faisal said the kingdom had not taken sides in Russia’s war with Ukraine and it has open dialogue with both countries.
In terms of the international oil market, he said communication with Russia is important.
“We in the GCC have a collective policy on the conflict on Ukraine. We condemn the invasion but we also continue to have open dialogue with Russia,” he said.
“We believe there is a need to keep these channels of communication open so we are able to facilitate a dialogue and hopefully a cessation of hostility.
“We feel very strongly that sustaining the stability in the international oil market is not just in our own interests, but in the interests of the international community to make sure that we have visibility and we have clear signals to the market that ensure stability in the oil price which can protect the international economic situation.
“The GCC has a fairly unified position as regards Russia-Ukraine.”
Prince Faisal said the kingdom’s relationship with the US remains “robust”.
“The US remains a key partner for all of us in the national security sphere,” he said.
“We are all focused on pursuing our own national interest and, for us and the kingdom, the primary drive is our developmental journey on how we can build sustainable development for our people, and the answer to that is Saudi 2030, and everything we do foreign policy wise is driven by that priority.
“Our interests and the US continue to align in almost every instance. My main priority is to my own country’s interest.”