GCC backs West to stop Iran’s nuclear drive


Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will use the prospect of oil contracts, arms deals and work visas to persuade Russia and China, who have been resisting tougher UN sanctions, that their long-term strategic interests lie with them, not in Iran.

“China and Russia have so far not been presented with the right incentives. They have not been presented with a better substitute,” said Sami Al Faraj, an adviser to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the main regional grouping.

GCC representatives will meet at the UN today with diplomats from the six countries handling nuclear negotiations with Iran – the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — to discuss what role the Arab countries can play before a critical meeting with Iran next week.

A European official confirmed the Gulf states were playing more of an active role to persuade Russia and China to support tougher economic sanctions if the 1 October meeting of the six-nation negotiating group with Iran does not bring compromise on Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme.

It is hoped that economic inducements from the Gulf, combined with Barack Obama’s decision last week to abandon a missile defence scheme in eastern Europe, will help win backing from Moscow and Beijing for fresh punitive measures that would go beyond the current targeted financial sanctions and strike instead at Iran’s oil and gas industry.

Foreign ministers from the six-nation group met last night on the margins of the UN general assembly to agree a common position before the 1 October meeting. The draft joint text included a warning of further “steps” if Iran did not show signs of compromise at the meeting, but did not elaborate, on the insistence of Russia and China.

A European official said Gulf help in persuading Russia and China was useful but was sceptical of the GCC’s ability to remain united. “They talk a good game in private, but when you get them all in a room and ask a difficult question, then they tend to split down the middle,” the official said.


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