Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud yesterday urged the world to take “a decisive stance” to address efforts by Iran to develop nuclear and ballistic missile programs, in an annual address to the Shara Council, the top government advisory body.
“The kingdom stresses the dangers of Iran’s regional project, its interference in other countries, its fostering of terrorism, its fanning the flames of sectarianism and calls for a decisive stance from the international community against Iran that guarantees a drastic handling of its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction and develop its ballistic missiles program,” the king said.
They were the 84-year-old ruler’s first public remarks since he addressed the UN General Assembly in September via videolink, when he also took aim at Iran.
Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are locked in a decades-long struggle for influence across the region, supporting opposing sides in conflicts from Syria to Yemen.
There was no immediate reaction from Iran to the king’s remarks. Tehran has previously described Saudi Arabian statements against it as “baseless allegations” and denies arming groups in the Middle East.
The Saudi Press Agency published a full transcript of the king’s speech.
State TV carried photographs of what appeared to be the king virtually addressing council members from his palace in NEOM.
Tensions have risen in the region since US President Donald Trump in 2018 pulled the US out of a nuclear deal with world powers and reimposed economic sanctions on Iran.
US president-elect Joe Biden in his campaign pledged to reassess ties with the kingdom, a major oil exporter and buyer of US arms.
Saudi Arabia was an enthusiastic backer of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, but Biden has said he would return to a 2015 nuclear pact between world powers and Tehran, a deal negotiated when Biden was vice president in then-US president Barack Obama’s administration.
In Yemen, where Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthis in a nearly six-year war that has killed tens of thousands of people, King Salman said that the kingdom continues to support UN-led efforts to reach a political settlement.
He also condemned the Iran-aligned Houthi movement’s “deliberate and methodological” targeting of civilians inside Saudi Arabia via drones and ballistic missiles.
Riyadh was working to guarantee the stability of global oil supplies to serve producers and consumers, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on markets, the king said.
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