Murphy says S. Arabia has no intention to build nuclear arms
TEHRAN - Richard W. Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia, says he does not believe that Saudi Arabia intends to build nuclear weapons as the Institute for Science and International Security has said Riyadh has accelerated research into nuclear programs to counter Iran.
Murphy says Riyadh is seeking nuclear program to diversify its sources of energy.
“In the long run it (Saudi Arabia) cannot afford to utilize its oil at an ever increasing rate for domestic consumption,” Murphy tells the Tehran Times.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: The Institute for Science and International Security has said that the Saudi government has accelerated research into nuclear programs to counter Iran. The Washington DC-based group wrote since nuclear action was scaled back in Iran, it has increased in the Saudi kingdom. What is your opinion?
A: Countering Iran is part of the explanation for the reported increase. I believe that Saudi Arabia is studying the possibility of engaging in nuclear energy production as one way to diversify from its excessively heavy dependence on oil. In the long run it cannot afford to utilize its oil at an ever increasing rate for domestic consumption. This is eating into its revenue from the export of both crude oil and related oil products.
Q: What will be the reaction of the International Atomic Energy Agency to such a report?
A: There is no evidence that Saudi Arabia intends to develop a program of nuclear weapons. There is every reason to believe that allies of Saudi Arabia will seek assurances from the Saudis that Saudi Arabia does not intend to develop nuclear weapons and that they will support involvement of the IAEA as further reassurance that nuclear weapons are not being developed.
Q: Some Saudi and Western experts argued that Iran has large reserves of oil and gas and it did not need nuclear energy. Will they use such argument for Saudi Arabia with much more fossil fuels and less population?
A: I am sure that this argument will be heard from those suspicious of Saudi intentions.