Saudi Arabia backs US efforts to 'prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons'
Saudi Arabia has expressed its support for "US efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," the kingdom's official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.
In the press statement, which followed a cabinet meeting, Saudi ministers also thanked the United States for supporting Saudi Arabia in defending its territory from attacks by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group.
The declaration comes as talks are ongoing in Vienna between world powers and Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal. The deal, which provided sanctions relief in exchange for limits on Iran's nuclear programme, fell through in 2018 when the Trump administration unilaterally pulled the US out and re-imposed heavy sanctions on Iran. However, the talks have made next to no progress so far and concerns are growing among Western powers on Tehran's accelerating nuclear advances.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have backed opposing sides in regional conflicts and political disputes in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq for years. In Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition has been waging a war against the Iran-aligned Houthis that has led to carnage and mass starvation. Deadly Saudi strikes against the Houthis last month received harsh criticism from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who "deplored" numerous civilian casualties.
Although relations with Iran have appeared to be thawing at times, Saudi Arabia remains on the look for Western military backing amid growing pressure from the Houthis, whose strikes have reached Saudi territory and even the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Gulf nations also worry about a potential withdrawal of US military from the region at a time when Iranian influence seems to grow. The US recently pulled out missile defence systems from Saudi Arabia, with observers speculating that they could be repositioned elsewhere as tensions with Russia and China mount.