It is hard to image the foreign minister of a third world country more capable of hypocrisy than Mr. Bush - but, without a doubt, Prince Saud al-Faisal takes the prize for being the more obnoxious of the two. Such insincerity and double-standards must surely make Mr. Bush feel inclined to ask himself if he got short-changed by having Rove as his ‘brain’ – or perhaps Mr. Bush has a prince as the new ‘brain’.
Reports have it that Saudi Arabia has called on Iran to respond to an Arab proposal for a joint uranium enrichment plant outside the Middle East which would ‘satisfy Tehran’s demands for nuclear technology and diffuse tensions’[i]. Perhaps the Saudis can propose this because their own plans have never been leaked.
The jittery Saudis offered to pay for the reconstruction of Iraq’s Osirak-reactor destructed by Israel in 1981 (funds that helped Saddam in the Iraq-Iran war, no doubt). As late as 1985 Iraqi and Saudi military and nuclear experts were co-operating closely, this included sending Saudi nuclear scientists to Baghdad for months of training.[ii]
Between 1985 and 1990, up to the time Saddam invaded Kuwait, the payments were made on condition that some of the bombs be transferred to the Saudi arsenal. Muhammad Khilewi, the second-in-command of the Saudi mission to the United Nations Khilewi, provide a cache which included transcripts of a secret desert meeting between Saudi and Iraqi military teams a year before the invasion of Kuwait. The transcripts depict the Saudis funding the nuclear program and handing over specialized equipment that Iraq could not have obtained elsewhere.
What Khilewi did not know was that the Fahd-Saddam nuclear project was also a closely held secret in Washington. According to a former high-ranking American diplomat, the CIA was fully apprised. The funding stopped only at the outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991. The defector's documents also showed that Riyadh had paid for Pakistan's bomb project and signed a pact that if Saudi Arabia were attacked with nuclear weapons, Pakistan would respond against the aggressor with its own nuclear arsenal.
The fact that the CIA was aware of this could explain why Khilewi was not granted federal protection when he abandoned his UN post and became an opponent in late June 1994 even though he had brought with him more than 10,000 documents he obtained from the Saudi Arabian Embassy. Nor does it explain why the United States did not push for investigation of these activities, although it does explain why the Saudis are so eager to use Iran’s legal civilian program as a diversionary tactic and in spite of their own track record, would want Iran to renounce its legal rights.
It is also important to be reminded that Saudi Arabia played an important role in encouraging war in the region. Bob Woodard (State of Denial) explains the Saudi role during his interview on ‘60 minutes’. “Bandar, who's skeptical because he knows in the first Gulf War we didn't get Saddam out, so he says to Cheney and Rumsfeld, ‘So Saddam this time is gonna be out, period?’ And Cheney - who has said nothing - says the following: ‘Prince Bandar, once we start, Saddam is toast.’" “Bandar understood that economic conditions were key before a presidential election: “They’re [oil prices] high. And they could go down very quickly. That's the Saudi pledge. Certainly over the summer, or as we get closer to the election, they could increase production several million barrels a day and the price would drop significantly.” [iii]
Indeed, after having paid for nuclear bombs and arming Sunni insurgents to the teeth in Iraq to kill Americans and underdmine the legitimate Shiite government, is it plausible that the Saudis now want to turn over a new leaf and be the business of ‘peace-making’ instead of the lucrative business of say – Carlyle and the like? After all, G.W. Bush has armed them to the teeth – not to forget the arms purchased from Britain at the cost of ‘shared values’ – that is for Britain to expel Saudi progressive thinkers who were pro-democracy. However, before giving up the rights of other sovereign nations, it would be worthwhile recalling a few things that Iran has had to endure while defending her rights.
While the Saudis were secretly working to acquire a bomb, Iran was openly exercising her right under the NPT to have nuclear energy. Each time, the United States used its economic domination and stopped Iran from restarting its civilian nuclear project. In 1982, the president of Iran at the time, approached Kraftwerk Union who had left their contract with Iran incomplete after the 1979 revolution and asked them to complete the Bushehr power plant project. Under US pressure, they refused and would not even deliver the reactor component to Iran. Citing a 1982 International Commerce Commission (ICC) ruling a lawsuit was filed which remains unsettled[iv]. This pattern has been repeated until Iran started its cooperation with Russia. However, given the decades of hardship, sanctions, and investment Iran has put into its civilian nuclear program, it would seem rather generous on the part of the Saudis to take it away from Iran and give it to all Arab States in Switzerland.
Perhaps one thing that has escaped Prince Saud al-Faisal, is that Iranian are defending their right and their integrity. It is possible that a few in the Muslim world will see this as good will gesture, but what is more important to Iran and any nation that values sovereignty, is the reality that in order to escape colonialism, a nation-state must be self-sufficient. Iran has reached that stage – it has shed the shackles of colonialism and is free. A country that has been isolated for so almost three decades has taken 5th place in the ‘British Invention Show’ [v]. This fact speaks not only to the talent of the nation, but what it can achieve. Does the Prince suggest that Iran should capitulate and allow others to fish for it when it can fish so very well for itself?
[ii] Source: Global Security http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/saudi/index.html