As talks on Iran’s nuclear program reach their deadline today, and amid indications that America is trying to extend the talks yet again, new reports reveal that US President Barack Obama is urging Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with rival Iran in yet another sign of the White House’s softly-softly approach to Iran.
According to the reports, during meetings in recent days with Saudi National Guard Minister Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Obama asked the senior official to improve ties with Tehran, according to the Saudi site Ilaph as cited by Yedioth Aharonoth.
A source in the Gulf state told the Arabic-language paper that his government feels the White House is pressing for an agreement with Iran, warning “let them try Tehran and pay the price.”
The source claimed that Obama noted several times in meetings with Abdulaziz the need for openness towards Tehran in the near future, possibly indicating plans for American concessions on Iran’s nuclear program.
Last Wednesday, 43 US Senators wrote to Obama expressing their alarm at reports he intends to bypass the Congress and force through a deal with Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has revealed Iran is not abiding by interim conditions in refusing to answer questions on the military aspects of its nuclear program.
Iran is likewise demanding to retain enough centrifuges to build 38 atomic bombs every year, a proposition raising fears of a regional nuclear arms race with such countries as Saudi Arabia, which could turn to Sunni allies such as Pakistan for nuclear weapons capabilities.
Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have been deeply divided for years over numerous regional issues, particularly the conflict in Syria, in which Tehran has backed the Damascus government and Riyadh has been a leading supporter of the largely Sunni rebels.
Obama visited Saudi Arabia in March and told King Abdullah that the United States would not accept a “bad deal” with Iran, after Saudi Arabia expressed its disappointment with the interim deal that was signed between Iran and the six world powers last November.
A senior adviser to the Saudi royal family said after the deal was signed that his country was deceived by its American ally in the agreements, and will pursue an independent foreign policy in response.