Any New Nuclear Adventurism in Mideast ‘Extremely Unwelcome’: SIPRI Chief
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) expressed opposition to Saudi Arabia's bid to expand its nuclear program with the help of the US, noting that any new nuclear proliferation in the Middle East is “extremely unwelcome”.
“Any nuclear proliferation is extremely unwelcome, most especially in the Middle East where there are so many violent conflicts and increasing tensions and confrontation in the (Persian) Gulf region in particular…,” Dan Smith told the Tasnim news agency.
Dan Smith has a long record of research and publication on a wide range of conflict and peace issues such as nationalism, identity politics, armed conflicts, ethics of intervention, gender aspects of conflict and peace building. In recent years, his work has broadened to encompass other contemporary issues such as the relationship between climate change and insecurity, peace and security issues in the Middle East and global conflict trends. Smith has served four years in the UN Peacebuilding Fund Advisory group, two of which (2010–2011) were as Chair. He has lived most of his adult life in the UK with a 10-year spell in Norway. He has traveled professionally to more than 60 countries.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: According to a report carried recently by the New York Times, Britain, France and Germany are trying to create a “successor deal” to the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers. The proposed instructions stipulate that the Europeans agree to three key fixes: “a commitment to renegotiate limits on missile testing by Iran; an assurance that inspectors have unfettered access to Iranian military bases; and an extension of the deal’s expiration dates to prevent Iran from resuming the production of nuclear fuel long after the current restrictions expire in 2030.” What’s your take on this?
Smith: I am not aware of this report. President Trump stated back in January that he wanted a new “follow-on” nuclear deal. EU leaders have not said they will do so. So far, my impression is that they are standing by their previously stated and re-stated approval of the JCPOA.
Tasnim: It seems that the Europeans are most comfortable with enforcing new limits on Iran’s missile program. What do you think?
Smith: Limits on missile testing fall outside the JCPOA. It would be no surprise if EU governments urge Iran to accept limits.
Tasnim: European diplomats say they worry that Trump’s scorn for the deal runs so deep that he would find other reasons to pull out. What would happen if Trump pulls out? How should Iran react?
Smith: If that happens, Iran should react calmly and diplomatically, by attempting to improve relations with those parties to the JCPOA - the Europeans as well as Russia - that still support it.
Tasnim: In the shadow of Iran deal, reports suggest that the Trump administration is opening talks with Saudi Arabia on a potentially lucrative atomic energy agreement. The Saudis have reportedly indicated they might accept curbs on their future nuclear program only if a separate nuclear deal with Iran is tightened. What is your idea about a nuclear Saudi Arabia?
Smith: Any nuclear proliferation is extremely unwelcome, most especially in the Middle East where there are so many violent conflicts and increasing tensions and confrontation in the (Persian) Gulf region in particular. I am opposed to the idea of Saudi Arabia getting nuclear weapons just as I am also opposed to the idea of Iran getting them and Israel having them.