But most diplomats say few countries are likely to reimpose old sanctions
Saudi King Salman takes aim at Iran in UN debut
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz took aim at Iran during his debut on Wednesday at the annual United Nations (UN) meeting of world leaders, calling for a united front to contain Riyadh's rival and stop it from getting weapons of mass destruction.
He said Iran exploited a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers “to intensify its expansionist activities, create its terrorist networks, and use terrorism”.
“A comprehensive solution and a firm international position are required,” the Saudi king, 84, told the 193-member General Assembly in a pre-recorded video statement.
The US, a strong ally of Saudi Arabia, quit the Iran nuclear pact in 2018, with President Donald Trump calling it the “worst deal ever”. Washington has since imposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran and asserts all countries should reinstate UN sanctions to try to push the Islamic Republic to negotiate a new deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron told the world body on Tuesday Washington's sanctions campaign against Iran had failed.
All the remaining parties to the nuclear deal, including longtime US allies, and 13 of the 15 UN Security Council members, say the US claim on UN sanctions is void. Diplomats say few countries are likely to reimpose the measures.
King Salman said: “Our experience with the Iranian regime has taught us that partial solutions and appeasement did not stop its threats to international peace and security.”
Iran's UN mission spokesperson Alireza Miryousefi rejected what he called “the baseless allegations”, saying they emboldened “certain powers who are intent in sowing discord among regional countries with the aim of creating permanent division and selling more deadly weapons to the region”, in an apparent swipe at the US.
Sunni Muslim-majority Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite-dominated Iran are locked in several proxy wars in the region, including in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Tehran-aligned Houthi movement over five years.
Riyadh has blamed Iran for attacks on the kingdom's oil facilities last year, a charge Tehran denies. Iran denies arming groups in the Middle East, including the Houthis, and blames regional tensions on the US and its Gulf allies.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told the General Assembly on Tuesday Washington could impose “neither negotiations nor war” on his country.
Gulf Arab states have also been alarmed by the rising influence of Iran's ally Hezbollah in Lebanon, withholding financial support to the government which is needed to tackle Lebanon's worst financial crisis in decades.
Iraq seeks to avoid being drawn into any regional conflagration.
We do not want Iraq to become a sort of playground for other forces which will kill themselves on our territory
“We do not want Iraq to become a sort of playground for other forces which will kill themselves on our territory,” Iraqi President Barham Salih told the General Assembly.
On attempts to mediate peace between Israel and the Palestinians, “We support the efforts of the current US administration to achieve peace in the Middle East,” King Salman said.
Saudi Arabia drew up the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative by which Arab nations offered to normalise ties with Israel in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.
The king stopped short of endorsing recent US-brokered agreements by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to establish ties with Israel, a strategic realignment of Middle East countries against Iran. Saudi Arabia has quietly acquiesced to the deals but has signalled it is not ready to take action itself.
Palestinian leaders have condemned the UAE and Bahrain's warming of relations with Israel. — Reuters
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