Saudi Arabia said yesterday Iran’s nuclear programme has increased threats to the Gulf region and urged Tehran to co-operate with world powers to defuse tension after talks last month failed to achieve a breakthrough. Western nations and Gulf Arab states suspect that Iran’s nuclear energy programme is a camouflaged attempt to develop the means to produce nuclear weapons. Iran says it is enriching uranium only for civilian purposes. “For sure the Iranian nuclear programme has escalated the threat level in the region... So it is dangerous...,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters in Jeddah after a Gulf Co-operation Council meeting. “We hope Iran, with all kinds of threats coming from it, changes its policy to protect a region that is Iran’s (as well). I can not imagine Iran becoming the reason for the destruction of this region because it will be the biggest loser.” Talks last month between Iran and six world powers over its nuclear ambitions ended without an agreement but the sides decided to reconvene in Moscow on June 18-19 in another effort to resolve the long-standing dispute. “This requires greater co-operation from Iran with the international group,” Prince Saud said. “We hope that Iran stops its nuclear programme and reassures the region’s states.” Tensions have been on the rise between Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbours, who accuse Tehran of fomenting Shia unrest in Bahrain and in eastern Saudi Arabia. Prince Saud also renewed criticism of Iran over what he called its occupation of three strategic Gulf islands that are also claimed by the United Arab Emirates. “There is a big crisis now in the Gulf caused by Iran’s occupation of the UAE islands and ... threats in general,” Prince Saud said. Friction worsened between Iran and the UAE after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Abu Musa, the biggest of the three islands located near key oil shipping lanes at the mouth of the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Last week, the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards paid a similar visit to the three islands where he met with military forces stationed there. l An adviser to Iran’s supreme leader has urged world powers to formally recognise its nuclear rights to bring about a “favourable result” at talks on its atomic programme later this month, state media reported yesterday. Deflecting Iranian pressure in talks last month, Western countries declined to accord any such recognition, saying Tehran had no automatic right to enrich uranium because of its previous violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran says that under its NPT membership, it can develop a full nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes including the enrichment of uranium, a process that yields fuel for power stations or bombs, depending on the level of refinement. “I hope the P5+1 group recognises Iran’s inalienable nuclear right within the framework of the NPT and refrains from sitting on the sidelines,” Irna quoted Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying. “By accepting Iran’s right to use peaceful nuclear energy, the forthcoming talks in Moscow should reach a favourable result.” Despite Velayati’s firm line, diplomats say Iranian negotiators were forthcoming at the talks in Baghdad - in contrast to previous failed negotiations - and believe Khamenei has given them a freer hand to explore a deal. Iran has at times appeared flexible on halting higher-grade enrichment if its requirements for fuel are met.