Saudi Foreign Minister Seeks to Avert Iranian Nuke Standoff With Joint Nuke Facility

Saudi Arabia today revealed details of an ambitious offer to Tehran, aimed at defusing the growing crisis over Iran’s controversial nuclear program, reported the Times of London.

Speaking at the end of the state visit to London by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, his Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that every effort must be made to avert what many fear could turn into a military confrontation between the United States and Iran.

Click here to read the Times of London story on Saudi compromise.

Washington and Tehran again attacked each other over the issue today. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. under-secretary of political affairs, said that America was pushing to impose new sanctions on Iran. In Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened retaliation against Europe if it followed America’s lead.

At the heart of the problem is Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Iran insists that enriched uranium will be used purely as fuel for its nuclear reactor at Buhsher. America and other Western nations suspect that the Iranians want to produce highly enriched uranium for use as a warhead in an atomic bomb.

Prince Saud said that to defuse the row, Saudi Arabia and a consortium of Arab Gulf states had invited Iran to produce enriched uranium jointly, where the plant could be properly monitored by international observers.

“We have proposed a solution, which is to create a consortium for all users of enriched uranium to do it in a collective manner that would distribute (nuclear fuel) according to need,” he said. “We hope the Iranians will accept this proposal.”

He said that the proposed plant would be built in a neutral third country, like Switzerland.