Saudi Arabia is concerned about Iran’s recent nuclear activities, violating international borders and threatening regional security, a Saudi Foreign Ministry official said after Tehran began producing enriched uranium metal.
Iran began producing 20 percent enriched uranium metal, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon, and has been criticized by the United States and European powers. The move has no civilian benefit and can only be used for weapons program purposes.
Washington and its European allies saw the move as a threat to talks about the resumption of a 2015 agreement that imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
Riyadh “is very concerned about the accelerating pace of Iranian nuclear activity and the development of skills inconsistent with peaceful ends,” the Saudi official said in response to a Reuters request for comment.
The official said Iran’s efforts to produce uranium enriched to 60% fissile uranium and uranium enriched to 20% uranium metal are “an increasing threat” to regional security and weapons non-proliferation.
They are hindering efforts to “reach a comprehensive nuclear deal that will ensure global and regional security and stability,” the official said.
Trapped in a rivalry for regional power with Iran, Saudi Arabia has called for a stronger, longer-term treaty that also addresses Gulf Arabs’ concerns about Tehran’s missile program and support from proxy in the region.
Riyadh and Tehran, who severed ties in 2016, started direct talks in April in an attempt to contain tensions.
Reporting by Reuters