Saudis raise spectre of nuclear race as US-Iran negotiate deal (dpa German Press Agency)

Lausanne, Switzerland (dpa) – A deal over Iran’s nuclear programme could spark a nuclear technology race in the Middle East, a Saudi royal warned, as new talks between the Iranian and US chief diplomats got underway in Switzerland on Monday.
Iran and six world powers want to reach a framework deal by the end of March that would allow Tehran to enrich uranium as reactor fuel only under tight international controls, in order to ensure nuclear weapons are not produced.
Saudi Arabia would seek the right to also develop this technology if there was a deal, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the US, told the BBC.
“So if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that,” said the prince, whose country is concerned that a nuclear deal would boost the regional status of its rival Iran.
Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities, initially developed in secret, are at the heart of the current negotiations in Lausanne, as this technology can be used to purify uranium at low grades for reactors, or for nuclear warheads at high grades.
Iran denies having such military aims, but experts have pointed out that mastering enrichment technology gives Iran the ability to develop nuclear weapons if it wanted to.
In the Swiss city of Lausanne, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif started a new round of talks on what nuclear limits and controls Iran would have to accept, and on how quickly international sanctions will be lifted in return.
Zarif was scheduled to interrupt the talks later on Monday to consult with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, as well as with his British, French and German counterparts.
Russia and China are also among the six world powers negotiating the deal with Iran.