Arabia is worried, and with good reason.
The Obama administration initially said its policy was to completely dismantle Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure as a means to protect Washington’s Mideast allies.
Now, however, US officials say it is no longer plausible to eliminate all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, suggesting that any final deal would leave some nuclear capability in place. Iran denies that it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, but a final deal providing for nuclear enrichment capacity could prompt a competition.
Arab officials have increasingly spoken about a possible nuclear arms race in the Mideast as the negotiations have continued for 18 months, having been extended twice.
“At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” said an Arab official who has discussed Iran with the Obama administration and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks.
This is confidence our Arab allies and erstwhile allies have in the negotiating skills of the guys who sit in the President’s and the Secretary of State’s chairs. They’re not unduly pessimistic.