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January 29, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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Saudi Envoy:US Military Strike On Iran Would Be ‘A Nightmare’

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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. Turki al Faisal said Monday that not only would a nuclear armed Iran be “a nightmare,” but so would a U.S. military strike on Iran to interrupt an alleged nuclear weapons program.

Speaking at a good-bye lunch hosted by the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, soon-to-be departing Prince Turki said Saudi Arabia supported United Nations Security Council sanctions as the best method to try and resolve the Iran nuclear imbroglio.

Asked what guiding principles of policy he would advise the U.S. government to take, the ambassador said: “We have two nightmares… one is Iran developing a nuclear weapon, the other nightmare is the United States launching a military attack on Iran to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Prince Turki said Saudi King Abdullah supported the U.S. President statements made last year that Bush would follow a diplomatic route through the United Nations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, has repeatedly said that the U.S. wouldn’t take any of its options off the table, including a military strike. Both State and intelligence officials have said current U.N. Security Council sanctions are too weak.

The ambassador said, according to the latest intelligence he had reviewed, the Iranians were estimated to be between four to five years away from developing a nuclear weapon, “which is not a very long time.” One of Prince Turki’s prior posts before being appointed U.S. envoy was as head of the Saudi intelligence services.

But, said, “we believe the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions regime is the way to pursue that subject.”

“Military action now or in the next two years will have repercussions in our part of the world equally catastrophic as Iran acquiring nuclear weapons,” he added.

After only little over 15 months as envoy, Prince Turki unexpectedly resigned late last year, with the official reason given that he wanted to spend more time with his family. Political analysts said, however, that the resignation was more likely a power play within the Saudi royal hierarchy or a sign that King Adbullah was seeking a more conciliatory and less outspoken representative for Saudi interests in the U.S. The Ambassador, who is expected to leave his post officially late this week, has been a critic of the U.S. operations in Iraq.

At the Chamber luncheon, the ambassador repeated the official version of the reason for his departure but told a Middle Eastern fable that some in the audience interpreted as questioning its legitimacy.

Earlier Monday, Saudi King Abdullah announced Adel al-Jubeir, previously foreign affairs advisor to the king – and, unusually, a commoner – as Prince Turki’s replacement.

By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires

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