Amid speculation by experts that a nuclear deal with Shi'ite Iran might force its Sunni rival Saudi Arabia to buy a nuclear weapon, likely from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia on Thursday signed a nuclear agreement with Russia.
Al Arabiya reported that six agreements were signed Thursday between the Saudis and the Russians, including one on the "peaceful use of nuclear technology."
The report did not detail the specifics of the deal, but it would apparently indicate Saudi Arabia's desire to become a nuclear power even as Iran is reportedly working to build a nuclear arsenal under the guise of a "peaceful" nuclear program, ahead of a June 30 deadline for talks with world powers.
The move showing increased ties between Russia and Saudi Arabia may also indicate how the Saudis are moving further from the US, as its traditional ally in Washington is poised to reach a deal allowing its rival Iran to continue developing its nuclear program.
In an apparent admission of allowing Iran to have nuclear weapons, US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly offered the Saudis a nuclear umbrella back in March.
Saudi ambassador to Russia Abdulrahman Al-Rassi was quoted by the paper saying on Thursday that Russia plays an "important" role vis-a-vis Iran, adding that Moscow is working in the UN Security Council to "maintain stability and security in the world."
"I think that Russia is feeling this responsibility and we always hope and talk with Russian officials on the Iranian issue or other (issues). I do not think that Russia’s interest is in the instability in the region and this is certain," said Al-Rassi.
Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Moscow after arriving the night before in an official visit, showing the high level interaction between the two states.
Meanwhile sources told Reuters that the oil ministers of Russia and Saudi Arabia are to discuss a cooperation agreement on Thursday at an economic forum in St Petersburg.
The Russian interest in Saudi oil may come partially as a result of intense international sanctions pressure leveled due to Russia's invasion of Crimea and military involvement in Ukraine.