Saudi Arabia’s senior diplomat has called for Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, warning that its plans for a nuclear reactor in Bushehr risks a disaster in the region.

In an interview with MEED on 15 January, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal warned that Tehran’s actions could plunge the region into an arms race.

‘We are urging Iran to follow our position, that the Gulf and the Middle East should be nuclear-free,’ he said. ‘ We hope that they will join us in this policy and assure that no new arms threat will occur in the region.’

Prince Saud also warned of the dangers of any nuclear programme in the region.

‘It is dangerous in itself,’ he said. ‘If a plant is built on the Gulf and something happens there, what would happen to our more sensitive area of oil production?’

Although critical of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, Prince Saud said Riyadh was reserving judgement.

‘We don’t know the new president,’ he said. ‘And his statements seem to be extreme. We hope that this administration will work on being a stabilising force and not a destabilising force.’

The full interview with Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Saud al-Faisal will be published in the 27 January edition of MEED