Arab governments express concern over Iran deal, potential for Mideast nuclear arms race

Sunni states express concern to Washington over nuclear deal with Iran, say should Shiite-dominated Iran be allowed to keep nuclear-producing technologies, Mid-East nations will set out on arms race.

February 21, 2015 11:00
1 minute read.
john kerry jeddah

US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) poses with his Arab counterparts in Jeddah September 11, 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Arab governments, not only Israel, are expressing concern over the development of a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Talks with Iran over its nuclear program have instilled fear within some major Sunni states, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates that a nuclear arms race will break out in the region, and brought about speculation regarding the possible extension of a US nuclear umbrella to its non-nuclear-armed Middle East allies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, concerned Arab states said that a nuclear deal allowing Iran to keep its nuclear-producing technologies would likely drive nations in the region to develop nuclear capabilities in order to match those of Iran's.

An Arab official, according to the WSJ, said that the collapse of negotiations with Iran is preferable to a bad nuclear deal - a comment similar to those previously iterated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US and Arab diplomats say that, although Arab nations have avoided matching statements made by Israel, they share many of the same fears regarding a nuclear deal with Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The WSJ said that although the US initially wished to eliminate all of Iran's nuclear infrastructure with the onslaught of negotiations 18 months ago, they now say any final deal would leave the country with some capabilities intact, allowing Iran to maintain thousands of centrifuge machines used to produce nuclear fuel.

Should a nuclear deal be reached, Washington may need to provide security guarantees to appease its concerned Arab allies, the WSJ reported some US officials saying. This could include placing the Arab allies under the United States' nuclear umbrella.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to Geneva on Sunday for talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an effort to push negotiations forward. For the first time, according to the WSJ, Kerry will be accompanied by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who is expected to advise on technical issues.

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