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Saudis Issue Positive Statement on Iran Deal

While reportedly furious with the US over the deal, Riyadh chooses a diplomatic public approach.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/26/2013, 8:29 AM

Saudi King Abdullah welcomes French President Francois Hollande
Saudi King Abdullah welcomes French President Francois Hollande
AFP/Bertrand Langlois

Saudi Arabia has said that the interim deal on Iran's nuclear program could be a step towards a comprehensive solution – and hoped it could lead to the removal of weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East, according to Al Jazeera.

"The government of the kingdom sees that if there was goodwill, this agreement could represent a preliminary step towards a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear program," the cabinet said in a statement.

It said the deal could eventually lead "to the removal of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from the Middle East and the Arab Gulf region," in an apparent reference to Israel, which Al Jazeera says is the only country in the region to have a nuclear arsenal.

The desert kingdom said it hoped that this agreement would be followed by further steps that would guarantee the rights of all states in the region to peaceful nuclear energy.

The Saudi statement is the first on the Iran agreement, an issue that has strained relations between the kingdom and the US in recent months.

Behind the scenes, Saudi Arabia is reportedly furious with the US over the deal with Iran. Like Israel, the kingdom fears the deal will enable Iran to continue deceiving the West regarding its intention to develop nuclear weapons, and to eventually develop these weapons when the West is otherwise occupied. 

Saudi Arabia is led by a Sunni Muslim regime, while Iran is led by the rival Shiite stream. The Saudis and other Sunni Gulf states see Iran as a regional threat, and there have been reports that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, the Saudis will acquire ready-made atomic bombs from Sunni-led Pakistan.