Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

Now, the deal is sealed. A nuclear agreement has been signed between Iran and a number of the most powerful nations of the world — five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. In other words, it is like the whole world versus one nation. Subsequently, the agreement has been finalized with the approval of the United Nations. Just hours after the announcement of the agreement, a talk and talk back between the parties involved ensued. It was like a tie match and the one speaking the loudest would be the winner. Nuclear deals are no laughing matter and Iran’s nuclear program did not come out of nowhere. Iran’s nuclear program started many decades ago. It is true that Iran, like many other countries, is striving for energy resources no matter how much oil and gas it has. But it so happened that the Iranian main nuclear installations are at a stone’s throw from the western shores of the Arabia Gulf. In other words, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE are threatened by the physical presence of the Iranian nuclear installations especially the one located in Abu Shehr. Iran had in the past declared that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. If that is the case, why did it continue to refuse to negotiate during the past decades? Why did Iran mislead the international inspectors regarding the degree of uranium enrichment? And most ironic is that Gulf states are kept in the dark regarding Iranian activities. I think Gulf countries should have been involved in the negotiations in Vienna and also they should be given full access to the Iranian installations. Having Gulf countries only on specific committees in the United Nations, the European Union and the United States is not enough. Gulf states are the closest neighbors to Iran and Tehran must take into account the close proximity of its nuclear facilities to the Gulf states. Iran’s main nuclear installations are old and had in the past been neglected and never maintained especially during the 8-year war between Iraq and Iran. Not only that, Iranian nuclear facilities had been hit by the Iraqi air force more than once and they could not be properly restored even after the repairs. We all know that western technologies were used to build Abu Shehr nuclear reactor decades ago. But, after sanctions were imposed, Iranians sought Soviet-era horizontal technology to upgrade the installations. As we know, Iran is not a country that can only rely on its own technology for uranium enrichment, hence it had to depend on others. In the nut shell, Iranian nuclear facilities are not fully safe because of the above-mentioned factors. Now comes the big question. How close has Iran been able to proceed in its quest to acquire a nuclear bomb? Another question is: Does Iran really need it? The answer is clear. No, they don’t need it and it will only escalate a nuclear race in the most volatile region of the world. What is annoying about Iran is that it continues to threaten its neighbors. Just a few days ago, an Iranian leader’s statement demonstrated a clear intervention in the internal affairs of Bahrain. And to this day no one knows the real intention of Iran. Yes, the nuclear deal can be the correct course being taken by the superpowers to at least keep Iran on check, but, the neighboring countries of Iran can’t be intimated by the irresponsible Iranian actions. The Iranians now can be stretching themselves too thin and it is the Iranian people who will end up paying for the actions of their government. It is the duty of all the six Gulf states to demand assurances from Iran that it will act and behave in good faith and manner. But, isn’t it sad to see Iran pay hundreds of billions of dollars for a nuclear program rather spending it to upgrade its infrastructure. Generating electricity using nuclear facilities is not always economically feasible. And the Iranian nuclear facilities, if not maintained properly, is more of a threat to Iran than any other country. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Nuclear Deal: What’s in it for us? reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.