Prince Turki al-Faisal urges Iran to stop meddling in Gulf states’ internal affairs

Obama sends message to Iran warning it of closing straits

British foreign secretary says Iran’s nuke issue could destabilize whole region

U.S. asks Israel to refrain from unilateralism in striking Iran

U.S., allies call on North Korea to return to nuke talks

Saudi Arabia will use "all available options" to defend itself against Iranian "threats" that might trigger "unwanted military confrontation," Prince Turki al-Faisal, Chairman of the King Faisal Islamic Research & Studies Center, told a Gulf security conference this week.

Prince Turki's comments to the conference in Bahrain late on Tuesday came after Tehran demanded Riyadh re-think its offer to make up for any oil lost to world markets as a result of threatened curbs on Iranian exports.

"Any threat to our interests or security will force us to use all available options to defend our interests, and national and regional security," Faisal said in remarks carried by the Al-Arabiya news channel.

"The mounting escalation and persistent tensions might end up in an adventure with unpredictable consequences or in an unwanted military confrontation."

Iran has warned Western governments that it will close the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, a strategic choke point for much of the Middle East's oil, if they press ahead with sanctions against its key crude exports.

"Iran must not fuel this conflict and must not threaten us when we commit to international decisions," Faisal said.

"It must neutralize the security of the Strait of Hormuz and that of the world energy supply," said Faisal, who is also a former Saudi ambassador in both London and Washington.

But Iran, "our partner in achieving the objective of security across the region, based on peaceful foundations, has chosen a different policy that constantly undermines regional security and provokes foreign interventions, which it claims it is trying to get rid of."

Prince Turki, a U.S.-educated former Saudi intelligence chief and former Saudi envoy to the US, has sent a stern warning to Iran. According to him, the Iranian escalation will lead to "misadventure", stressing the readiness of the Arab Gulf States to use all options available to defend their interests.

Al-Faisal, in a speech at a conference on security issues in the Gulf region, held in Manama on Tuesday, said that "everyone heard about the provocative maneuvers carried out in the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea, as well as statements by the leaders of Iran on the closure of the Strait of Hormuz and the targeting of neighboring countries."

Quoted by the local media Wednesday the senior prince stated that "the increasing escalation and tension may lead to a misadventure or a military confrontation."

Prince Turki stressed that the Gulf states are not part of the conflict between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program. However, he noted that the GCC countries are fully committed to "legitimacy and international laws."

Meanwhile, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that any Israeli decision on attacking Iran in order to stop its nuclear program is still "very far." Barak told army radio "We did not make a decision to proceed with these things.

We have no date for making such a decision. The whole thing too far." In response to a question to clarify what he meant by "too far", Barak said he did not want to get into "expectations."

President Barack Obama used secret channels to warn Iran against closing the Strait of Hormuz, the New York Times reported on Friday, amid recent tensions over the possible closing of the strategic waterway.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the U.S. would act if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon or close the Strait of Hormuz.

Also referring to recent tensions over the waterway, through which passes a fifth of the world’s supply of crude oil, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said on Sunday that that Iran has the military power to block the Strait of Hormuz “for a period of time” if it decides to do so, but that the U.S. would take action to reopen waterway.

“We can defeat that,” he said.

Panetta said closing the strait would draw a U.S. military response. “We made very clear that the United States will not tolerate the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz,” he said. “That’s another red line for us and … we will respond to them.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned that "intensifying" tensions with Iran could spark crisis that would destabilize the entire Middle East unless Tehran abandons its nuclear enrichment program.

During an interview with The Telegraph, Hague expressed concerns that Iran's actions could spark a nuclear arms race, and called on the Iranian government to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the growing confrontation.

"We do have to confront this problem, because Iran has embarked on a course which threatens the whole region of the Middle East with nuclear proliferation," the paper quoted Hague, as saying.

"It is an intensifying problem that we have over their nuclear program. And so there is a risk that this will become a greater crisis as 2012 goes on," he added.

Hague's comments came as the European Union is preparing to agree an embargo on Iranian oil in eight days' time, in response to Iran's decision to step up its efforts to produce the materials for a nuclear weapon.

Hague said that Britain was not calling for military action, and stressed that they "believe in intensifying the peaceful, legitimate pressure on Iran."

"We don't take any options off the table in the long term... We believe in intensifying the peaceful, legitimate pressure on Iran - so that's what people will see much more of over the coming weeks," the paper quoted Hague, as saying.

"We must not be starry-eyed about sanctions - sanctions policies do not always succeed. But this is the best means we have of increasing the pressure. And Iran is getting itself into a more and more difficult situation, steadily losing friends and support around the world," Hague said.

"Its economy is in a more and more fragile position, and of course what it is doing on its nuclear program will only increase these tensions and difficulties," he added.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said Washington is still advising Israel to desist from taking any unilateral action against Iran.

At a joint press conference with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv on Monday, Panetta said that Israel should not embark upon any action without the coordination and consensus of the international community, Haaretz reported.

It was Panetta's second meeting with the Israeli defense minister in two weeks.

They two defense chiefs reportedly discussed a number of issues, including bilateral security ties, the Palestinian initiative for UN membership, the Arab Spring, and Iran's nuclear program.

Tel Aviv and Washington are at odds over Iran's nuclear activities.

Like his predecessor, Robert Gates, Panetta has repeatedly expressed opposition to Israel's threats to unilaterally strike Iran's nuclear facilities.

The United States, Israel, and their allies accuse Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program.

But as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran maintains that it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology meant for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran's civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

However, Israel possesses a nuclear arsenal and continues to defy international calls to join the NPT.

Meanwhile, The United States, Japan and South Korea agree that "a path is open" for North Korea to return to stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program, the State Department said on Tuesday.

U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials, meeting in Washington, reaffirmed their commitment to the talks on efforts toward denuclearization of North Korea in a peaceful manner, the State Department said in a statement.

"We also agreed that a path is open to North Korea towards the resumption of talks and improved relations with the United States, Japan, and Republic of Korea through dialogue," the statement said.

The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and China, broke down in 2008 when the North walked away from an aid-for-disarmament deal. United Nations inspectors were expelled from North Korea in 2009.

Despite repeated efforts, there has been little sign of progress since then.

North Korea has called for the resumption of the nuclear talks, but Washington and Seoul have been reluctant to rush back to the table, wary of Pyongyang's potential to engage in protracted negotiations only to walk away from its obligations.