Saudi Arabia, and possibly other nearby states, have vowed to "match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain" in the proposed nuclear deal in the works between Tehran and the P5+1 nations, The New York Times
"We can’t sit back and be nowhere as Iran is allowed to retain much of its capability and amass its research," an Arab leader, who declined to be identified until he has spoken to President Barack Obama, told the Times.
Obama was hosting a meeting at Camp David on Thursday with leaders from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain, where he sought to reassure them that a deal with Iran would in no way impact the United States’ commitment to the Gulf states’ security, according to The Associated Press.
The AP also reports that Obama is anticipated to offer those countries additional military assistance that includes "increased joint exercises and coordination on ballistic missile systems."
Overcoming Arab skepticism won’t be an easy task, according to the Times, which says there exist "deep suspicions" about the Iran deal, notably the "tentative agreements" that "assure nothing on a permanent basis."
During a recent presentation to a South Korean research organization, Prince Turki bin Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief, accused Obama of going "behind the backs of the traditional allies of the U.S. to strike the deal," and reiterated that "the small print of the deal is still unknown," the Times reports.
Turkey and Egypt could also join the Saudis in matching Iran’s nuclear capabilities, senior Western and Arab officials told The Wall Street Journal
last week, a move that could spark an arms race in "the world’s most volatile region, where the risks of a nuclear war would be compounded by the threat of radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorist groups."
While the Saudis have long argued for a nuclear-free Middle East, they are becoming increasingly concerned about Shiite Iran’s growing dominance in the region, something that stands to snowball once international economic sanctions are lifted and Tehran has access to more than $100 billion in frozen overseas assets, according to the Journal.
"Our leaders will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon while we don’t," retired Saudi colonel Ibrahim al-Marie said.
Iran has been historically duplicitous, according to Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Abdulmohsen, a scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh.
"If I am basing my judgment on the track record and our experience with Iran, I will say they will do anything in their power to get a nuclear weapon. A delay of 10 years is not going to satiate anything," he said.
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