Clinton warns of Mideast nuclear race

Saudi FM tells US secretary of state he wants "Immediate resolution" on Iran.

By BY AP, JPOST.COM STAFF
February 16, 2010 12:18
1 minute read.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walks

Clinton saudi FM 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has told college students in Saudi Arabia that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon it could trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Clinton said that could in turn create problems that she termed "quite dangerous."

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She spoke at a college in Jeddah called Dar al-Hekma, which translates in English to "House of Wisdom."

Her appearance at the all-woman college was highly unusual in a conservative Muslim nation.

Saudi law bars women from voting, except for chamber of commerce elections in two cities in recent years, and no woman can sit in the kingdom's Cabinet. Women also cannot drive or travel without permission from a male guardian.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister expressed doubts about the usefulness of more sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Prince Saud al-Faisal told a news conference in the Saudi capital that the threat posed by Iran's nuclear ambitions demands a more immediate solution than sanctions. He described sanctions as a long-term solution, and he said the threat is more pressing.

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“Our talks also considered the Iranian nuclear issue. The Kingdom reiterates its support of the P-1+5 or the 1+5 group to solve the crisis peacefully through dialogue, and we call for a continuation of those efforts. We also call upon Iran to respond to these efforts to remove regional and international suspicions towards its nuclear program,” Prince Saud said during a joint appearance with Clinton, who is in the Persian Gulf to shore up support for new sanctions against Iran.

The Saudi minister also said efforts supported by the US to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons must apply to Israel.

"Sanctions are a long-term solution," the Saudi minister said. "But we see the issue in the shorter term because we are closer to the threat," referring to Iran. "We need immediate resolution rather than gradual resolution."

He didn't identify a preferred short-term resolution.

US officials traveling with Clinton said privately they were uncertain what al-Faisal meant, since the Saudi government has been explicit in its support of sanctions against Iran. They said he appeared to be suggesting that sanctions may not be effective and that other action could be required.

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