WikiLeaks expose: Saudi Arabia urges US attack on Iran

Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt termed Iran as "evil".

London: Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region urged the US to attack Iran and destroy its nuclear facilities, The Guardian reported citing the secret US diplomatic communications leaked on Sunday by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

The revelations of secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was recorded as having "frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme", said the paper which was among the few media outlets that have been given access to the over 250,000 diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks.

"He told you (Americans) to cut off the head of the snake," the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah`s meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.

King Abdullah warned the Americans that if Iran developed nuclear weapons "everyone in the region would do the same, including Saudi Arabia".

The documents also describe how other Arab allies of the US have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.

Israel`s Defence Minister Ehud Barak estimated in June 2009 that there was a window of "between six and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable". After that, Barak said, "any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage."

Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, warned in February that if diplomatic efforts failed, "we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike, or both".

Israeli`s military intelligence chief, Major General Amos Yadlin, warned last year: "Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on Sep 11 2001."

"If the Iranians continue to protect and harden their nuclear sites, it will be more difficult to target and damage them," the US embassy reported Israeli defence officials as saying in November 2009.

The US embassy reported: "The IDF (Israeli Defence Force), however, strikes us as more inclined than ever to look toward a military strike, whether launched by Israel or by us, as the only way to destroy or even delay Iran`s plans."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US officials in May last year that he and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak agreed that a nuclear Iran would lead others in the region to develop nuclear weapons, resulting in "the biggest threat to non-proliferation efforts since the Cuban missile crisis".

The leaked US cables say that officials in Jordan and Bahrain have openly called for Iran`s nuclear programme to be stopped by any means, including military.

Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt termed Iran as "evil", an "existential threat" and a power that "is going to take us to war".

In a conversation with a US diplomat, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their (Iran`s) nuclear programme, by whatever means necessary. That programme must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it."

Zeid Rifai, then president of the Jordanian senate, told a senior US official: "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won`t matter."

In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later. "I believe this guy is going to take us to war ... It`s a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like (President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad. He is young and aggressive."

Bureau Report

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