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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Saudi Arabia will seek to develop its own nuclear weapons if Iran does: Foreign Minister

Adel Al Jubeir emphasised the need for a new, comprehensive nuclear agreement 

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said the Kingdom will seek to develop its own nuclear weapons if Iran does. Fayez Nureldine / AFP
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said the Kingdom will seek to develop its own nuclear weapons if Iran does. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Saudi Arabia will seek to develop its own nuclear weapons if Iran does, Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir told CNN on Wednesday, amid spiralling tension between the regional rivals.

Asked whether Riyadh would "build a bomb itself" if Tehran seizes on Washington's withdrawal from the 2015 Iran deal to resume a nuclear weapons programme, Mr Jubeir said: "If Iran acquires nuclear capability we will do everything we can to do the same.

"The remarks follow President Donald Trump's repudiation of the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, paving the way for the reinstatement of tougher American sanctions on Tehran.

"We believe that the nuclear deal was flawed," Minister Al Jubeir said, mirroring President Trump's belief that the agreement was "defective at its core."

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He emphasised the need for a new, comprehensive, agreement that includes Iran's "violations of the UN resolution in regards to ballistic missiles" as well as the country's interference in neighbouring states.

That, he said, "is the only way to stop Iran."

"You cannot seek to expand and dominate the region," Mr Al Jubeir warned in reference to Iran. "You cannot seek to acquire a nuclear programme surreptitiously."

Mr Al Jubeir also called on Iran to stop "supporting terrorism" and cease providing "ballistic missiles to terrorist organisations, like so-called Hezbollah and the Houthis."

Riyadh, which leads an Arab coalition against Yemen's Houthis, accuses Iran of supplying the militia with ballistic missiles.

"These missiles are Iranian manufactured and delivered to the Houthis. Such behavior is unacceptable. It violates UN Resolutions with regards to ballistic missiles. And the Iranians must be held accountable for this," Jubeir told CNN.

"We will find the right way and at the right time to respond to this," he warned. "We are trying to avoid at all costs direct military action with Iran, but Iran's behavior such as this cannot continue. This amounts to a declaration of war."