Saudi will fire at Israeli jets in Iran attack

Published Thursday, August 9, 2012

Saudi Arabia has threatened to shoot down any Israeli aircraft that flies over its airspace in a unilateral attack on Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday.

Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth said that Riyadh conveyed the warning to Israel via the United States, with US officials delivering the message in recent trips to the Jewish state.

The newspaper said that Israeli officials considered the warning as an attempt by Washington to dissuade Israel from launching a unilateral military attack against Iran's nuclear facilities.

But the report added that Saudi Arabia would approve Israeli use of its airspace if an attack was coordinated with the US.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are Washington's most important allies in the region.

Israel and the US have been pedaling back and forth over the possibility of a military strike against Iran, with Tel Aviv still considering a unilateral attack on the Islamic republic.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday sought to add pressure on the US to act by warning that Iran's nuclear program was becoming difficult to foresee.

"It makes the Iranian issue even more urgent and (shows it is) less clear and certain that we will know everything in time about their steady progress toward military nuclear capability," he said.

Israel and its Western allies accuse Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program, a charge Iran denies. Tehran insists its program is for peaceful purposes only.

Israel is the only nuclear power in the Middle East, and has dismissed Arab calls for it to disarm its arsenal.

Saudi Arabia has been leading Arab calls for a nuclear-free Middle East, pointing to Israel's nuclear weapons as a cause for instability in the region, with it potentially prompting Iran to develop its own deterrent.

Riyadh has also previously warned that if Israel and Iran do not rewind their programs, it may also pursue a nuclear deterrent, raising fears in Washington of nuclear proliferation in an already volatile region.

(Al-Akhbar, UPI, Reuters)

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