U.S.-allied Gulf Arab states are willing to set up a body to provide enriched uranium to Iran to defuse Tehran’s stand-off with the West over its nuclear plan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister told a magazine on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries — Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — share Western concerns that Iran’s nuclear energy program will lead to it acquiring atomic bombs, a claim Tehran denies.
“We have proposed a solution, which is to create a consortium for all users of enriched uranium in the Middle East,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED). [complete article]
This week Egypt became the 13th Middle Eastern country in the past year to say it wants nuclear power, intensifying an atomic race spurred largely by Iran’s nuclear agenda, which many in the region and the West claim is cover for a weapons program.
Experts say the nuclear ambitions of majority Sunni Muslim states such as Libya, Jordan, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia are reactions to Shiite Iran’s high-profile nuclear bid, seen as linked with Tehran’s campaign for greater influence and prestige throughout the Middle East.
“To have 13 states in the region say they’re interested in nuclear power over the course of a year certainly catches the eye,” says Mark Fitzpatrick, a former senior nonproliferation official in the US State Department who is now a fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “The Iranian angle is the reason.” [complete article]