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Thu 26 Jan 2012 12:18 PM

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Saudi prince warns of Middle East nuclear arms race

Prince Turki Al Faisal calls for Middle East to create atomic weapon-free zone

Saudi prince warns of Middle East nuclear arms race
Former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal

An
influential member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family has warned that the Middle
East risks entering an arms race if it fails to declare the region a nuclear
weapon-free zone.

Prince
Turki Al Faisal,
Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the US, has called for the
Middle East’s five permanent UN Security Council members to develop a nuclear
security umbrella for regional nations and impose “military sanctions” against
those seen to be developing atomic weapons

“I think
that’s a better way of going at this issue of nuclear enrichment of uranium, or
preventing Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction,” he said in an
interview with APF in Davos, Switzerland.

“If it
goes that route, I think it’s a much more equitable procedure than what has
been happening in the last ten years or so.”

Tensions
between the West and Iran have mounted in recent weeks after Iran announced
earlier this month that it had begun to enrich uranium in an underground
facility in Qom.

The
European Union will ban Iranian oil imports
from July and freeze assets of the
central bank and eight other entities while the US has also imposed strict
restrictions on financial trades with Iran.

An Arab
proposal for a weapons of mass destruction-free zone was initially endorsed by
the 1995 conference reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but never
acted on.

Egypt in
2010 called for a 2012 conference to discuss the creation of such a zone in the
Middle East, which would ultimately force Israel to sign the NPT and abandon
any nuclear weapons programmes.

Al
Faisal called for the five permanent members to announce the establishment of
the zone at this year’s conference in Finland. Ongoing issues such as the
establishment of a Palestinian state “will have to be dealt with to make the
zone workable,” he said. 

“So
there are incentives there for everybody to be serious about establishing an
overall peace so the zone can be put in place,” he added.

Al-Faisal
warned that the failure to introduce a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)-free
zone in the Middle East would “inevitably” lead to a nuclear arms race “and
that’s not going to be in the favour of anybody.”

The
GCC-states, he added, are committed to not acquiring WMD.

“But
we’re not the only players in town. You have Turkey. You have Iraq which has a
track record of wanting to go nuclear. You have Egypt. They had a very vibrant
nuclear energy program from the 1960s. You have Syria. You have other players
in the area that could open Pandora’s Box.”

“What I
suggest for Saudi Arabia and for the other Gulf states ... is that we must
study carefully all the options, including the option of acquiring weapons of
mass destruction. We can’t simply leave it for somebody else to decide for us,”
he added.

Garry Coughlan 7 years ago


the writing is on the wall , take off the blinkers and deal with the issue before it gets out of hand . listen and act while structures are in place to deal with the situation before more unrest

Garry Coughlan