Saudi Arabia urges US attack on Iran to stop nuclear programme

Jeff Abramowitz

Tel Aviv (dpa) – Arab states have been urging the United States to halt Iran’s nuclear programme by any means, including military, and Israel believes time is running out to stop Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, US diplomatic cables leaked Sunday reveal.

The cables, obtained by the WikiLeaks whistleblower website, quote Saudi Arabia King Abdullah repeatedly urging the US to attack Iran.

The king was quoted as telling the US “to cut off the head of the snake”.

In a meeting with US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus, the king, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Feisel, Intelligence Chief Prince Muqrin bin Abd al-Aziz, and Interior Minister Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz “all agreed that the Kingdom needs to cooperate with the US on resisting and rolling back Iranian influence and subversion in Iraq,” according to a cable dated April 20, 2008 and sent from Riyadh.

In another cable, dated November 4, 2009, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa was quoted as telling General David Petraeus that Iran was “the source of much of the trouble in both Iran and Afghanistan.”

According to the cable, “he argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their nuclear program, by whatever means necessary. ‘That program must be stopped,’ he said. ‘The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it’.”

In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed also favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later, a cable dated April 10, 2006 revealed.

The cable went on to quote the Crown Prince as saying action should be taken “this year or next,” and he was unwilling to wait to wait much longer.

“Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like Ahmedinejad. He is young and aggressive,” the cable quoted him as saying.

Israeli officials, meanwhile warned the US a year ago that time was running out to stop Iran.

In a meeting with US officials in Tel Aviv, the Israelis said 2010 was the “critical year” and “if the Iranians continue to protect and harden their nuclear sites, it will be more difficult to target and damage them.”

The cable, dated November 18, 2009, said the Israelis called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran and said they were not convinced Tehran would negotiate in good faith “unless there are visible and clear threats.”

Another cable from Tel Aviv, dated June 2, 2009, and detailing a meeting between Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and two visiting Congressional delegations, quoted the minister as estimating that a 6 to 18 month-long window existed to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. After that, Barak said, any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.

And a cable dated May 13, 2009, revealed how Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told visiting Congressmen that Iran wanted to pay “only a minimum cost for its current program.”

According to Major-General Yadlin, Iran intended “to keep resolutions and sanctions at a certain manageable level and continue to produce low enriched uranium until there is enough for several bombs.”

The hundreds of thousands of classified US documents were made public Sunday.

The New York Times, Guardian and German magazine Der Spiegel along with newspapers in France and Spain obtained the documents from the self-proclaimed whistle-blower website, which has refused to identify its source.