TEL AVIV – Fearful of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons upon the expiration of key sections of the international nuclear accord, an influential pro-government Saudi newspaper has recommended that the Kingdom take immediate steps to join the nuclear club.
The Al-Riyadh daily urged the country’s leaders to begin establishing a “clear road map for a civilian nuclear program.” The goal should be to open the first Saudi nuclear reactor by 2030 – one year before most of the significant constraints on Iran’s nuclear program lapse.
The Al-Riyadh editors warned that Iran cannot be trusted after the 15-year restrictions are ended on Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity, use of advanced centrifuges, and stockpile of enriched uranium.
“U.S. President Barack Obama is counting on the [assumption] that, in the course of this [15-year] period, a change will occur in Iran’s behavior that is [currently] detrimental to its neighbors. [This] philosophy of the president’s stems from his conviction that the minute the Iranian people is allowed a taste of a sanction-free [existence] it will surely become peace-loving. In this situation, [he believes], Iran’s policymakers will not think of advancing towards the manufacture of a nuclear bomb, [because] this would cause trouble for the Iranian regime and the Iranian people, who would refuse to go back to the era of sanctions after tasting freedom from sanctions.
The fact is that the American president has thrown the Iranian regime a lifeline that will ensure its survival, and North Korea is an example of how nuclear power can constitute a shield for diseased regimes…. This philosophy [of Obama’s] should not interest us at all.”
The newspaper called upon the Kingdom, “even today,” to begin “preparing a nuclear program for peaceful purposes so as to gain the necessary knowledge about the nuclear fuel cycle and build nuclear reactors for producing electricity and desalinating water, [thus] varying our energy sources.”
Al-Riyadh pointed out that the Kingdom has “the right to enrich uranium up to the internationally permitted level, that is [a level of] 3.75 percent.”
The newspaper argues Saudi Arabia’s “constructive conduct, which seeks peace with the countries of the region, helps it advance in this direction, as does [the fact that] it eschews all the characteristics of misguided countries that [already] possess this technology.”
The editors called for a “timetable or a clear road map for a civilian nuclear program to meet Saudi Arabia’s goals.”
The newspaper added: “The King Abdallah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy will naturally supervise the [nuclear] program, by virtue of its expertise. 2030 will be set as the date for activating the first nuclear reactor.”
The Al-Riyadh article was translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.
The Saudis have previously hinted at pursuing nuclear capabilities. Prince Mohammed bin Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s long-serving ambassador to London, said last June that “all options are on the table” if the international community fails to keep Tehran in check.
Three months earlier, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States refused to rule out the possibility of the Saudis building a nuclear infrastructure in response to Iran’s ambitions.
“This is not something we would discuss publicly,” Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer pressed for more details, Jubeir replied, “This is not something that I can comment on, nor would I comment on.”
Last May, the Sunday Times of London cited unnamed senior American officials claiming Saudi Arabia had “taken the ‘strategic decision’ to acquire ‘off-the-shelf’ atomic weapons from Pakistan.” The Saudi Defense Ministry rejected the claims.
In 2012, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the Saudi nuclear body, recommended the Kingdom install 17 gigawatts of nuclear power but no plan has been publically issued to meet that goal.
In March, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, told this reporter the nuclear negotiations with Tehran had already prompted Mideast and Persian Gulf countries to seek a nuclear infrastructure.
He pointed out that Russia that same month had inked a $10 billion deal to build a nuclear power plant in Jordan. Egypt last February signed a preliminary agreement with Russia for a nuclear plant. And the United Arab Emirates in 2009 finalized a $20 billion contract with Korea Electric Power Corporation for a power plant that is currently under construction.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.