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Saudi FM: Iran deal may stop Tehran from getting nuke weapon

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, right, is greeted by Saudi Arabian Assistant Minister of Defense Mohammad Al-Ayesh, center, as Tim Lenderking U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission stands left, after his arrival military aircraft at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Carter is meeting with Saudi King Salman and other Saudi officials. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Pool)n

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Thursday the Iran nuclear deal appears to have the provisions needed to curtail Iran’s ability to obtain a nuclear weapon in what were the most favorable remarks yet from the kingdom on the recent agreement.

Saudi officials had expressed skepticism over the U.S.-led deal struck earlier this month between six world powers and Iran, Saudi’s regional rival.

But Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters the kingdom has been reassured by Washington while consultations continue about the deal, which he said stipulates effective inspections, including of military sites, and the possibility of snap-back sanctions if Iran violates the agreement.

“We are currently in talks with the American government regarding these details, but it (the deal) generally seems to have achieved these objectives,” said al-Jubeir, who visited Washington in mid-July.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also discussed the deal in the Saudi port city of Jiddah on Wednesday with King Salman and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud.

Saudi worries that an Iran freed of economic sanctions would strengthen its support for Shiite proxy groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Shiite rebels in Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia to the south. A Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes in Yemen since March, targeting the Iranian-backed rebels known as Houthis and their allies.

“We welcome any agreement that would guarantee Iran’s inability to obtain a nuclear weapon, and that contains an effective inspection mechanism, through which all sites would be inspected, including the military sites, as well as a mechanism to reinstate sanctions against Iran in the event that it violates such an agreement,” al-Jubeir said. “These are the principles that we support.”

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