In 2008, the Saudi king warned the United States that Riyad would embark
on a nuclear weapons effort unless Iran's project was halted. The warning,
reported in a U.S. State Department cable, was never denied by the Saudi
The remarks, first reported by Britain's Guardian daily, marked the
latest Saudi warning that it was preparing a nuclear weapons program. Over
the last 18 months, Riyad has signed nuclear cooperation accords
with Western nations as well as China and Russia.
Turki was said to represent the Saudi leadership, particularly the king
and Deputy Prime Minister Prince Nayef. Over the last decade, Turki has
served as Saudi intelligence chief as well as Riyad's ambassador to the
"We cannot live in a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and we
don't," Turki, according to a transcript of the NATO conference in a British
air force base, said. "It's as simple as that. If Iran develops a nuclear
weapon, that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit."
Turki warned NATO that Iran was expanding its influence throughout the
Gulf and the rest of the Middle East. The prince urged the Western alliance
to confront Iran, which he termed a "paper tiger with steel claws."
"Iran is very sensitive about other countries meddling in its affairs,"
Turki was quoted as saying. "But it should treat others like it expects to
be treated. The kingdom expects Iran to practice what it preaches."