Arabs wary of the US-Iran nuclear deal, want to be consulted


Riyadh, 6th December: Saudi Arabia has said that Gulf states must be consulted in the US nuclear deal with Iran.

According to reports, Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that the Gulf states must be consulted if a US nuclear agreement with Iran is revived, warning it is the only path towards a sustainable agreement.

As per Dawn News, President-elect Joe Biden has signalled he will return the United States to a nuclear accord with Iran and that he still backed the 2015 deal negotiated under Barack Obama, from which Donald Trump withdrew.

A return to the agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), would delight US allies in Europe, but concern the Gulf states, who have criticised US engagement with Tehran.

Biden has indicated that he will bring Saudi Arabia into the process as Iran’s US-allied Arab neighbours.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said, “Primarily what we expect is that we are fully consulted, that we and our other regional friends are fully consulted in what goes on vis a vis the negotiations with Iran.”

“The only way towards reaching an agreement that is sustainable is through such consultation,” he said on the sidelines of a security conference in Bahrain’s Manama.

“I think we’ve seen as a result of the after-effects of the JCPOA that not involving the regional countries results in a build-up of mistrust and neglect of the issues of real concern and of real effect on regional security.” Asked whether the Biden administration was already in touch about the shape of a revived Iran deal, Prince Faisal said there were no contacts as yet, but that “we are ready to engage with the Biden administration once they take office”.

“We are confident that both an incoming Biden administration, but also our other partners, including the Europeans, have fully signed on to the need to have all the regional parties involved in a resolution,” he said.

As per Dawn News, Germany said in recent days that a new, broader Iran nuclear accord must be reached to also rein in Tehran’s ballistic missile programme, warning that the 2015 deal was no longer enough.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, talked of a “nuclear agreement plus”, in language also deployed by the Saudi minister.

“I don’t know about a revived JCPOA, although one may look to a JCPOA plus, something well beyond the JCPOA,” Prince Faisal said.

“Because reviving the JCPOA as it exists now will only bring us to the point where we were, which is a deficient agreement that doesn’t address the full issues related to Iran’s nuclear activities and other original activities.”

Since the start of last year, Saudi Arabia has been targeted with dozens of ballistic missile and drone attacks, including a major strike on Aramco’s facilities in the country’s east, which temporarily knocked out half the kingdom’s crude output.

That strike which was later claimed by the Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is fighting a  five-year conflict to back the internationally recognised government, but the United States said it involved cruise missiles from Iran.

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