DUBAI: Saudi Arabia on Monday condemned Iran’s drive to obtain a nuclear bomb and Tehran’s failure to cooperate with the UN watchdog inspecting its nuclear program.
The Kingdom’s Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, also called for the nuclear threat from Israel be dealt with, and for the Middle East to be free of nuclear weapons.
Prince Abdulaziz told the annual general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna: “The Kingdom expresses its concern with regards to Iran’s noncompliance with its commitments to the safeguards agreement, and its non-transparency with the agency, which poses a threat to the non-proliferation ecosystem.
“The Kingdom also supports all international efforts aimed at preventing Iran from possessing nuclear weapons, and developing the non-proliferation system in the region and the world.”
Last week Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to install memory cards into cameras the watchdog uses to monitor its nuclear facilities, after a visit to Tehran by IAEA secretary general Rafael Grossi.
The deal allowed the continuation of the inspection process, which is vital for any potential deal between Iran and world powers, and avoided an embarrassing rebuke for Tehran at this week’s IAEA meeting. But critics say this is just another stage in the “cat and mouse” game Tehran is playing with the international community as it pursues a nuclear bomb.
Prince Abdulaziz also addressed the issue of Israel, the only country in the Middle East known to have a military nuclear capability, though it has never officially admitted it.
“The Kingdom also reaffirms the importance of confronting nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, which requires dealing with Israel’s nuclear threat, which not only threatens the security and stability of the Middle East, but also the entire world,” he said.
“In this regard, we reaffirm the importance of implementing the decision of 1995 completely in creating a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East.
“The Kingdom is committed to its national policy, which ensures the highest standards of transparency andreliability, and the highest levels of safety. The Kingdom works, in this regard, to develop peaceful uses of nuclear technology in various fields, including its national nuclear energy project.”
The Saudi delegation is due to hold talks with several other countries at the Vienna meeting, including the US delegation under Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
Prince Abdulaziz also revealed that Saudi Arabia had made a contribution of $10 million toward the construction of a nuclear security center in the Austrian town of Seibersdorf.