Saudi Access to Nuclear Material Should Be ‘Strictly Limited’: US State Senator
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Richard Black, a Republican member of the Virginia State Senate, described Saudi Arabia as a regime with “inherently violent philosophy and history”, saying he is distrustful of a nuclear Saudi Arabia and that Riyadh's access to nuclear material should be “strictly limited”.
“I distrust Saudi Arabia with nuclear facilities. Considering their vast oil resources, what is the real purpose of acquiring nuclear power plants? A nation with Saudi Arabia’s inherently violent philosophy and history should not have nuclear material at all. Saudis are the source of almost every act of global terrorism today. They paid and trained terrorists to invade Syria and other sovereign nations. They fund radical madrassas that teach young men to devote their lives to raping, murdering and enslaving others,” Sen. Black told the Tasnim news agency.
He added, “…I would prefer if their access to nuclear material were strictly limited.”
Richard Black represents the 13th District encompassing parts of both Loudoun and Prince Williams Counties. He was previously a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1998 to 2006. Black was a career military officer. He served in both the US Marines and in the US Army JAG Corps. He served a total of 31 years active and reserve, rising from the rank of private to full colonel. He is a graduate of the US Army War College, Command and General Staff College, and Naval Aviator’s Flight School. Black served as a pilot in the US Marines during the Vietnam War, earning the Purple Heart medal. He flew 269 combat helicopter missions with HMM-362’s “Ugly Angels” squadron, which operated out of Ky Ha, Vietnam.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: According to a report recently carried 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?
Sen. Black:First, let me say that my hope is for peace throughout the Middle East. The needless war, destruction and bloodshed is shameful. The United States people gain nothing from these wars and the hostility that we’ve promoted in the region. It is not a reflection of the wishes of our people, but rather that of elements in our foreign policy apparatus.
Except for the US, the nations that signed the nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, found it entirely satisfactory. Now, they are being compelled by the US to reconsider the agreement. The US threatens to use its monopoly over the international banking system to retaliate against nations that refuse to comply with its demands.
However, it is important to recall the historical context of the relations between the US and Iran. General Wesley Clark is the former Supreme Commander, Allied Forces Europe. He said that in 2001, the US drafted plans to invade seven Middle Eastern countries, including Iran. General Clark described a conversation he had in the Pentagon with a member of the General Staff, who held up a top-secret document and told him, “This is a memo that describes how we're going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”
Iranian authorities will be cautious when considering whether to accept any alteration of the nuclear deal, because they understand this historical context. Already, we have attacked and overthrown Iraq; we destroyed Libya. We continue spending untold resources in a failed attempt to overthrow the duly-elected Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Our actions in Syria are calculated to install a brutal puppet regime—one sworn to murder all Christians, Shiite, Alawites, Druze and those Sunnis who reject the vicious Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia. At this moment, we have perhaps 4,000 US troops and mercenaries occupying up to 20 camps and bases in Syria. All of this has been done without lawful authority.
The nuclear agreement has helped Iran. It enabled them to resume large-scale oil and chemical exports to Europe. The loosening of trade barriers allowed Iran to purchase spare parts for western-made machines and to purchase new equipment. According to Xinhua, trade with the EU soared five-fold in the first four months of 2017. However, constant threats by the US have prevented an even more rapid rise in trade.
War profiteers have made absurd claims that Iran seeks to establish a Shiite empire. Yet they ignore the fact that Iran does not have a history of foreign intervention. And, it minimized its involvement during the early part of the war in Syria. Only when Syria seemed in danger of falling did Iran enter combat there, and that was at the urgent request of the Syrian government. Iran did not employ armed forces to expand its territory; it did so to keep hostile powers from edging closer to its own borders.
Talk of renegotiating the nuclear agreement presents great challenges for Iran. Providing full access to Iranian military bases would certainly reveal intelligence of military value to the west. Extending the suspension of nuclear fuel past 2030 may inhibit peaceful uses of nuclear energy. And, suspending ballistic missile tests naturally makes Iran somewhat more vulnerable to aggression by nations that already have such missiles or are developing them. Those things may be open to compromise, but Iran is concerned that a modified agreement might not be observed faithfully. After all, the ink was hardly dry before the US began to renege on the current deal.
It remains somewhat uncertain what effect it will have if the US abandons the agreement. China and Russia are unlikely to cooperate and Europe will only help reluctantly. Undoubtedly, Iran would suffer from new US sanctions; the only question is how badly Iran would be hurt.
Tasnim: It seems that the Europeans are most comfortable with enforcing new limits on Iran’s missile program. What do you think?
Sen. Black: Western powers became concerned about Iran’s ballistic missile tests when Iran tested missiles bearing the inscription, “Death to Israel.” That highly-symbolic act dealt a significant diplomatic setback to Iran, since it raised the specter of missiles armed with nuclear warheads endangering other nations. For that reason, Iran may face a common front against its missile program.
Skillful diplomacy is vital in these perilous times. When two small US naval vessels were seized in Iranian waters in 2016, their harsh treatment dealt a major blow to President Obama’s effort to solidify public support for the nuclear deal. The harsh treatment of American sailors made it awkward for President Obama to praise the nuclear deal without appearing unpatriotic. At that critical time, his hands were tied because of the publication of photos of US sailors being humiliated. That was most unfortunate.
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?
Sen. Black: That possibility presents a dilemma for Iran and for other nations too. There is no assurance that the US would adhere to an amended agreement any more than they adhered to the original one. However, if a revised agreement were signed, it would be difficult for the administration to renege on it without suffering a major loss of credibility.
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?
Sen. Black: I distrust Saudi Arabia with nuclear facilities. Considering their vast oil resources, what is the real purpose of acquiring nuclear power plants? A nation with Saudi Arabia’s inherently violent philosophy and history should not have nuclear material at all. Saudis are the source of almost every act of global terrorism today. They paid and trained terrorists to invade Syria and other sovereign nations. They fund radical madrassas that teach young men to devote their lives to raping, murdering and enslaving others.
In 2009, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. Wikileaks published a classified report, in which she said, ". . . donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” She was correct; Saudi Arabia is the source of most global terror. I would prefer if their access to nuclear material were strictly limited.