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Saudi Arabia says Israeli strike on Iran would produce ‘total mayhem’

on 14 Comments

Who wants Israel to have nukes? Or: who is impatient with Israel’s hypocrisy on the question when it is threatening war to stop Iran from achieving some nuclear capability? A lot of folks.

First, Der Spiegel interviews Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal (here) and Turki says just what Israel’s lobbyists always say, that Saudi Arabia doesn’t want Iran to have nukes. But he goes on that he doesn’t want an Israeli strike on Iran, and doesn’t want Israeli nukes either: 

SPIEGEL [Susanne Koelbel]: What would it mean for Saudi Arabia were Iran to develop a nuclear bomb?

Turki: That Saudi Arabia must carefully look at all options, including that of acquiring nuclear weapons.

SPIEGEL: What do you think would happen if Israel were to carry out a pre-emptive attack to prevent Tehran from building the bomb?

Turki: Iran would retaliate against everybody — with its missiles, with suicide bombers, with agents. And we would be the first victims. Imagine if a nuclear installation is destroyed in Iran and there is fallout on our side of the border. The Iranian people would coalesce around their government. In short, it would be total mayhem.

SPIEGEL: What is the alternative?

Turki: From the very beginning, the nuclear negotiations with Iran got off on the wrong foot. The so called EU-3 — Germany, France and the United Kingdom — had a carrot and stick approach which never worked and will never work because the stick was never used. The right foot would have been to propose the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction for the whole area and the provision of two guarantees. First, economic and technical support for countries interested in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. And second, a nuclear security umbrella for the members of the zone guaranteed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

SPIEGEL: How could the Israelis ever be convinced to give up their nuclear arsenal?

Turki: President Barack Obama would need to get together with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the new Chinese premier, the French President and British Prime Minister David Cameron, and invite the countries within the zone to discuss this plan. So it is not only a matter of Israel, it is all of us.

Meantime, on the BBC (transcript at Jewish Council for Public Affairs), former UK foreign secretary Jack Straw beards former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold on anti-Iran fearmongering and expresses outrage over Israel’s nuclear hypocrisy, which he links with Israel “stealing the land of the Palestinians” (thanks to Idrees Ahmad): 

JACK STRAW: Well, hang on a second, Israel has a most extensive nuclear weapons capability, it has no territorial ambitions apart from stealing the land of the Palestinians and it’s not going to use nuclear weapons for that but it has (a) very extensive nuclear weapons programme, and along with India and Pakistan are the three countries in the world, plus North Korea more recently, which have refused any kind of International supervision of their nuclear programme.

JOHN HUMPHRYS: Well let me put that to Dr Gold; you can’t argue with that Dr Gold?

DORE GOLD: Well we can have a whole debate on Israel in a separate programme.

JOHN HUMPHRYS: Well it’s entirely relevant isn’t it? The fact is you’re saying they want nuclear weapons; the fact is you have nuclear weapons.

DORE GOLD: Look, Israel has made statements in the past. Israeli ambassadors to the UN like myself have said that Israel won’t be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.

JACK STRAW: You’ve got nuclear weapons.

JOHN HUMPHRYS: You’ve got them.

JACK STRAW: You’ve got them. Everyone knows that.

DORE GOLD: We have a very clear stand, but we’re not the issue.

JACK STRAW: No, no, come on, you have nuclear weapons, let’s be clear about this.

Finally, Scott McConnell at the American Conservative on the injustice:

And the nuclear issue: it seems to me making a core value of American policy that Israel should have hundreds of nuclear weapons and its regional neighbors not even the right to enrich uranium will always be perceived as inherently unjust, and thus inherently unstable. Margaret Thatcher, expressing frustration at Israel’s efforts to stonewall the peace process once told a Times interviewer  ”[Y]ou cannot demand for yourself what you deny to other people.” 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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14 Responses

  1. Patrick on June 19, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Turki: “Iran would retaliate against everybody — with its missiles, with suicide bombers, with agents. And we would be the first victims.”

    Yes, and specifically, with its missiles, Iran could target Saudi oil production facilities, instantly creating oil shortages and sending economies around the world into a tailspin. Gary Sick has written about this, calling it Iran’s true WMD capability.

    This is the reason why it’s unlikely that (a) the U.S will attack Iran, and (b) give Israel a green light to do so. Also, it seems very unlikely that Israel would defy the US and launch such an attack on its own. They would be blamed for grievously hurting the US economy, and the ‘special relationship’ would take a big hit.

  2. Maximus Decimus Meridius on June 19, 2013, 1:23 pm

    So add Jack Straw to the list of politicians (his successor David Milliband is another) who suddenly plucks up the courage to criticise Israel….. when safely out of office. He never did so when he was FM, and his words might actually have made a difference.

    As for the Saudis, it’s been clear for a long time that they and Israel are de facto allies. Obviously, neither country can admit this. Even in this interview, Prince Turki puts the blame for the ‘mayhem’ caused by a hypothetical strike not on the Israeli aggressors, but on Iran for responding.

    It’s funny that it was the same Dore Gold, who about a decade ago – back in the post 9/11 era when the Israelis saw a golden opportunity to weaken Saudi influence in Washington – wrote a book on KSA called ‘Hatred’s Kingdom’. There’s no way he would write such a book today – now, it’s all about Iran. The Saudis are positively benign.

  3. just on June 19, 2013, 4:27 pm

    whoo boy!

    The wheels are coming off!

    ( I am still giggling with glee & delight at the very successful double team of salvos by Jack Straw and John Humphrys @ the odious Dore Gold). Thanks Phil.

  4. hophmi on June 19, 2013, 4:37 pm

    “The so called EU-3 — Germany, France and the United Kingdom — had a carrot and stick approach which never worked and will never work because the stick was never used. ”

    Seems to me that the stick is sanctions.

  5. R2mi on June 19, 2013, 5:53 pm

    “We (Israel) won’t be the first country to introduce nuclear weapon into the Middle East”
    Too much humour for me.

  6. Keith on June 19, 2013, 5:56 pm

    “The right foot would have been to propose the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction for the whole area….”

    This is the only sane approach, one which Iran says that it supports, but which US/Israel oppose. The underlying problem is that the nuclear issue is a pretext. US/Israel wants regime change.

    “In short, for 34 years sanctions have been levied against Iran, particularly by the US, even in the absence of any accusation that Iran is developing nuclear weapons….”

  7. James Canning on June 19, 2013, 7:20 pm

    I think Prince Turki bin Faisal is dead on the money when he underlines the imporatnce of a nuke-free zone in the Middle East.

    Saudi Arabia and Iran both have backed such a zone for years. The US, in its typically idiotic fashion, has opposed such a zone. Why? ISRAEL LOBBY.

  8. James Canning on June 19, 2013, 7:22 pm

    Success in P5+1 negotiations with Iran is much more likely if the Six Powers make clear that getting rid of Israel’s nukes is a primary objective.

    But Israel lobby does not want better US relations with Iran. Or success of nuclear talks.

  9. James Canning on June 19, 2013, 7:33 pm

    Great piece by Scott McConnell (that Phil linked).

    How often does one read an opinion piece in an American newspaper, calling for pressure on Israel to get rid of its nukes?

    • Citizen on June 20, 2013, 9:00 am

      Here’s another informative article from that conservative blog:
      Rand Paul telling a conservative crowd that Christians in the ME are consistently and significantly suffering due to America’s policy over there, and that Jesus would not condone preemptive and/or preventative war. He advocates the concept of just war for Christians, that is, only actual defensive wars, entered into only as a last resort.

      I didn’t notice Fox News breaking this news. Or any TV news show. Rand Paul did not mention who we’ve been copying with our preemptive/preventive war strategy.

      • James Canning on June 20, 2013, 3:17 pm

        @Citizen – – Yes, bravo to Rand Paul for calling attention to the disaster Christian communities in Palestine have suffered, due to Israeli occupation of West Bank.

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