Gulf states must be consulted before the United States revives a nuclear deal with Iran, says Saudi Arabia, warning that this would be the only path to a lasting deal.
President-elect Joe Biden has signaled his willingness to bring the United States back to a landmark nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 if Iran complies with the terms of the deal. The nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was negotiated under the presidency of Barack Obama and Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018.
Analysts believe a return to the JCPOA would delight US allies in Europe but worry Gulf states, which have criticized the US engagement with Tehran.
“What we mainly expect is that we are fully consulted, that our other regional friends and ourselves are fully consulted on what is happening regarding the negotiations with Iran”, said the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs. , Prince Faisal bin Farhan, to the AFP news agency. on the sidelines of a security conference in Manama, Bahrain, on Saturday.
Biden has indicated that he will involve Iran’s Arab neighbors allies of the United States, such as Saudi Arabia, which sees Iran as its rival in the process.
“The only way to reach a lasting agreement is to conduct such a consultation,” the Saudi foreign minister said.
“I think we have seen, as a result of the aftermath of the JCPOA, that failure to involve countries in the region leads to an accumulation of mistrust and neglect of issues of real concern and real effect. on regional security. “
Asked whether the Biden administration was already in contact on the form of a restored Iran deal, Prince Faisal said there was no contact yet, but that “we are ready to engage with the Biden administration once she takes office ”.
“We are convinced that the new Biden administration, but also our other partners, including the Europeans, have fully subscribed to the need to involve all regional parties in a resolution,” he said.
‘JCPOA more more’
Germany has said in recent days that a new, broader Iranian nuclear deal must be reached to also curb Tehran’s ballistic missile program, warning that the 2015 deal was no longer sufficient.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, spoke of a “nuclear deal plus”, in language also deployed by the Saudi minister.
“I don’t know about a relaunched JCPOA, although one could envision a more plus more JCPOA, something far beyond the JCPOA,” Prince Faisal said.
“Because relaunching the JCPOA as it currently exists will only get us to where we were, which is a flawed deal that does not solve all the problems with Iran’s nuclear activities and other original activities.” . “
Saudi Arabia has been the target of dozens of ballistic missile and drone attacks since the start of last year, including a devastating attack on Aramco facilities in the east of the country, which temporarily destroyed half of the kingdom’s crude production.
The attack was claimed by Houthi rebels aligned in Tehran in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is waging a bitter five-year conflict in support of the internationally recognized government. But the United States said the attack involved cruise missiles from Iran.
Prince Faisal said other than the JCPOA being too limited with its 10-15 year timeline, he also failed to address the issue of Iran’s missile program and support for proxy groups. in the region and had not done enough to address the risk of proliferation.
“As we have seen from Iran’s ability to rapidly increase its capacity to increase its stocks of enriched uranium, such a short time frame was not sufficient to contain Iran’s nuclear capabilities,” he said. he declared.
As Saudi Arabia considers forging a relationship with the new U.S. administration, Prince Faisal has said he believes Biden’s pledge to reassess his relationship with the kingdom due to his human rights lapses. the man was only an electoral speech.
“I think the election campaign brings out all kinds of comments, and I’ll leave it at that,” he said.
Biden had said during the election campaign that under him the United States would end its support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and would not make arms sales to the kingdom that contradict “American values.” “.
The minister also indicated that the kingdom would maintain relations with Trump – after four years of extremely warm ties, including between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
“The kingdom always remembers its friends,” he said. “And of course we will continue to have, I’m sure, friendly contacts with President Trump.”