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Saudi tough-talking on Iran

Saudi Arabia has demonstrated it has no interest in Iran’s offer of working together to resolve all outstanding differences. Indeed, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Sultan seemingly sidestepped the invitation altogether. Not content with comparing Ayatollah Khamenei to Hitler — he went on to say that if Iran went nuclear then the Kingdom would be forced to follow suit.
This is problematic on several fronts; particularly for Pakistan. Firstly, the IAEA has confirmed that Tehran is playing by the nuclear rulebook. Yet Riyadh’s supposition undermines the credibility of the atomic watchdog. This may ultimately prove a gross misstep given that the Kingdom is itself looking towards civilian nuclear energy to reduce its oil habit. Indeed, major world powers are battling it out to secure a multibillion-dollar tender to construct the country’s first two nuclear reactors. All of which will necessarily bring it under the IAEA purview.
Given that the Saudis have recently approved national policy restricting all nuclear activities to peaceful purposes — the ‘threat’ to go rogue is likely nothing but hot air. The politics of deflection in the face of a few Iranian home truths about Riyadh’s penchant for viewing security as a commodity that can be bought and sold on the open market. Be that as it may, the fact remains that Tehran’s admittedly prickly overture was made while the Foreign Minister was in Pakistan. But not only that, the Saudi nuclear bluff will put this country unnecessarily under the spotlight.
Thus those at the helm here in Pakistan need to have a private word with the Saudis to ensure that this country does not get dragged into Middle Eastern proxy wars. Not when it has worked so hard with the IAEA to prove its credentials as a non-proliferating responsible nuclear power. Indeed, it is also in Washington’s interest to get the Kingdom to rein in the tough-talk. After all, the two sides have already held discussions on striking a deal that would see American companies sell its ally nuclear technology.



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