Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries cautious with Iran nuclear deal

Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries cautiously welcome nuclear agreement which expected to terminate 12 years of deadlock between Tehran and West as well as reinforcing Iran’s leverage in regional issues

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Gulf Arab dynasties, foremost Saudi Arabia, welcomed a final Iran nuclear deal agreed on Tuesday in Vienna, but put their reservations since the deal promises to break Iran’s long-standing isolation in both the Middle East and the world.

Saudi Arabia publicly supported the nuclear deal signed between Iran and the six world powers on Tuesday, but Saudi authorities called for a full commitment of Iranian compliance to the proposed deal in Vienna.

Riyadh attaches importance to any agreement that ensures Iran to dissuade from obtaining nuclear weapons and demands a full-fledged International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to the Iranian civil and military sites.

A Saudi official confirmed his country’s position regarding the Iran deal and called “the strict and constant inspection of all [Iranian nuclear] sites, including military ones, as well as mechanism for rapidly re-imposing [economic] sanctions in the event Iran violates the terms of the deal,” according to the state run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Meanwhile, Qatar warmly greeted the nuclear agreement as its foreign ministry described it as an “important step” towards establishing “regional peace and stability,” in a statement the Qatar News Agency said on Wednesday.

Kuwait’s official news agency also stated that Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah had expressed his hopes that the agreement would “bolster security and peace in the region.”

After a long-lasting marathon talks, Iran and the P5+ 1 countries, consisting of the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany agreed on a final nuclear deal on July 14 in Vienna. The deal suggests Iran to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the removal of UN sanctions and arms embargo over the country.

A final nuclear deal might be said to provide Tehran a legitimate base in relations with its Middle Eastern neighbours, such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries which have been essentially opposing a nuclear armed Iran.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have long been opposing a nuclear deal that might give some privileges to Iran in order to unlock its geopolitical and geoeconomic isolation in the region particularly after the conflicts erupted in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

With a Western support derived from the nuclear settlement, Iran is expected to enhance its bargaining power regarding the crises in Iraq, Syria and Yemen where the parties have been divided over power struggle and sectarian violence.

The parties have already been at odds due to the maritime disputes considering the Gulf of Aden, and Basra to which Iran also calls “Persian Gulf” since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies accuse Iran of spreading “aggression” across the region while Tehran claims Arab states as “outpost of the American expansionism” given the fact that the Gulf countries’ role in the US invasion of Iraq.

The ongoing Yemen crisis also augmented geopolitical rivalry and military discontent since the Saudi-led air strikes targeted the Houthi militias which were backed by the Iranian regime.

Iran is known for its solid stance towards the Assad regime in Syria and backs the Syrian military through sending weaponry and human resources, a vital support that essentially annoys Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and as well as Turkey in the region.

The implementation of the agreement will enable Iran to get rid of its long isolation caused by the financial-economic sanctions.

The deal also promises Tehran to release more than 100-billion-dollar worth of its assets around the world, which means a flow of liquidity into the Iran’s struggling economy which has long been crippling under the Western sanctions.    

Hence, the nuclear agreement is said to accelerate Iranian economic boom by doubling the country’s oil exportation in one year which might whack up commercial rivalry on the oil price mechanism with Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh has long been using its comparative advantage as a political tool against Iran which was badly affected from low oil prices due to Saudi-driven OPEC moves in the recent years.



TRTWorld and agencies