Saudi Arabia could develop nuclear weapons if Iran becomes a nuclear power, the country’s foreign minister has warned.
Adel al-Jubeir said it is ‘definitely an option’ for the Middle-Eastern state to develop nuclear capabilities if its rival Iran could not be stopped from making one, according to reports.
He reportedly told DPA news agency that other countries would also likely do the same.
According to Al Jazeera, the foreign minister said: ‘Saudi Arabia has made it very clear, that it will do everything it can to protect its people and to protect its territories.’
The comments come amid reports outgoing US President Donald Trump considered launching a strike against Iran’s main nuclear facility last week.
However, senior advisers talked him out of the dramatic action, according to two new reports.
Trump asked top national security aides including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C Miller and Chairman of Joint Chiefs Mark Milley about the potential strike at a meeting in the Oval Office last Thursday, the New York Times reported Monday, citing four current and former US officials.
The meeting took place a day after international inspectors informed United Nations members that Iran had significantly increased its stockpile of nuclear material.
Trump’s advisers ultimately dissuaded him from launching a strike by warning that such action could trigger a wider conflict with Iran, the Times sources said, weeks before Trump is due to hand over power to Joe Biden.
They said any strike, either by missile or cyber, would likely have targeted Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facility, Natanz.
A separate source confirmed Times’ account of the meeting to Reuters, saying: ‘[Trump] asked for options. They gave him the scenarios and he ultimately decided not to go forward.’
The International Atomic Energy Agency, a watchdog for the UN, reported in a confidential document last Wednesday that Iran’s uranium stockpile is now 12 times larger than the limit set under the nuclear accord Trump pulled out of in 2018.
The agency said that as of November 2 Iran had a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms (4,641.6 pounds) reported on August 25.
The nuclear deal signed in 2015 with the US, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the deal.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, James Robinson