Saudi Arabia cautiously welcomed on Monday a nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers, saying “good intentions” could lead to a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s controversial atomic programme.
“This agreement could be a first step towards a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear programme, if there are good intentions,” the government said in a statement.
The landmark deal reached Sunday would curb parts of Iran’s nuclear programme in return for some relief from international sanctions.
Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia has been locked in a decades-long rivalry with Shiite-dominated Iran.
The government said a comprehensive solution should lead to the “removal of all weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear, from the Middle East and the Gulf”.
Such a solution should be followed by “important steps” that would guarantee the right of all states in the region to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, it added, the SPA state news agency reported.
The deal was reached following marathon talks in Geneva between Iran and the so-called P5+1 nations comprising Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
The West and Israel suspect Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its uranium enrichment programme, which Tehran insists is entirely for peaceful purposes.
Saudi newspapers were sceptical of Iran’s commitment to implement the deal.
Al-Riyadh daily charged in its editorial that the agreement was aimed at getting Gulf countries “stripped naked in face of Iran’s growing nuclear power, and its scary ambitions”.
“This could lead to alienation between Europe and the United States (on one side) and Gulf countries (on the other),” it said.
“Did Washington betray its Gulf allies?” asked Al-Eqtisadiah daily.
Other Gulf monarchies welcomed the agreement.
Qatar said the deal “marks an important step on the road to peace and stability in the region,” while calling for a Middle East void of nuclear weapons.
Bahrain also hailed the agreement, saying diplomatic solutions were the “best means” to guarantee stability, while Oman and Kuwait expressed hopes the agreement would ease tensions and lead to peace and stability.
Gulf monarchies have never made a secret of their concerns about Iranian regional ambitions.
Tehran is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, of the Shiite Alawite sect, in his fight against a nearly three-year insurrection backed by Gulf states.
The Islamic republic is also seen as feeding instability in Bahrain and Yemen through the Shiite communities there.