Saudi Arabia, France: Iran nuclear deal must preserve balance of power

Saudi Arabia and France raise concerns over Iranian nuclear deal which they believe might endanger delicate balance in region as Hollande pays official visit to Riyadh

Updated Jul 28, 2015

France and Saudi Arabia have stated that a prospective Iranian nuclear agreement must preserve the balance of power in the Middle East as the French President Francois Hollande went to Riyadh to discuss the regional issues.

"France and Saudi Arabia confirmed the necessity to reach a robust, lasting, verifiable, undisputed and binding deal with Iran," President Hollande and Saudi Arabia's King Salman Abdulaziz said in a statement after their late Monday meeting.

"This agreement must not destabilise the security and stability of the region nor threaten the security and stability of Iran's neighbours," the statement added.

Hollande and King Salman met at a royal dinner during which the two leaders were said to have negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, the Yemen crisis, and developments in Syria. The two leaders agreed on there being no place for Bashar al Assad in the future of Syria.

Hollande’s visit to Saudi Arabia will also enable him to meet the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia and France are known for their tough stances towards the Iran nuclear deal, which is hoped to end a long-lasting standoff between Tehran and the West.

Riyadh and Paris share the view that Iran might use its sphere of influence to further destabilise the region when the sanctions are totally lifted from Tehran as a result of a possible final nuclear deal.

"They have a real fear that when sanctions are lifted Iran will be able to finance all its proxies across the region," a senior French diplomat said, cited by Reuters.

Iran and the group of six world powers, dubbed P5+ 1 and consisting of the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany, had reached a preliminary framework nuclear agreement in Switzerland by the beginning of April which was regarded by the US as a “historic” but opposed by Israel for security reasons.

The deal reached in Switzerland between the parties specifies that that Iran will decrease two thirds of its uranium enrichment centrifuges and limit the level of enrichment to 3.67 percent, which would prevent Iran from making a nuclear bomb. Many of the restrictions will expire in 15 years.

The deal also decreases Iranian uranium stockpiles from 10,000 kilograms to 300 which will be enriched only by Arak Nuclear Reactor under the inspection of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In return, the 10-year-deal promises Iran that all UN sanctions on Tehran will end with Iran’s fulfilment of the criteria within a planned calendar, after a July 1 final deadline was agreed between Iran and the West.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have cautiously approached the Iran nuclear deal as the agreement may remove Iran’s decades-long political isolation, which would mean giving more power to Tehran in years to come.

France appears to have been following a balanced foreign policy between Arab countries and Iran, as France is a negotiator in the Iranian nuclear talks. However, Paris also wishes to protect its economic interests with the oil-rich Arab countries.

France has recently increased its commercial ties with the Arab states in the region through signing some lucrative security sector deals.

Hollande on Monday signed a 6.3-billion-euro deal with Qatar to sell French-made Rafale fighter jets and Paris is also currently in talks with the United Arab Emirates to sell some 60 fighter jets.

TRTWorld and agencies