Gulf states increasingly wary of Iran’s nuclear plans



The GCC states "support the peaceful efforts deployed to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis, because any escalation would only complicate the situation," GCC Secretary-General Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiyah said.

“I solemnly invite all parties, including Iran, to use the language of reason and dialogue, away from confrontation and escalation," he said of the standoff with the international community over Tehran’s programme of uranium enrichment.

Gulf leaders tend to avoid voicing their concerns about Iranian intentions in public.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attend the GCC summit, the first time Iran will take part in a meeting of the group.

In an interview last month with British newspapers, Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, for the first time, accused the Islamic republic of seeking to acquire nuclear arms.

Fearing a new armed conflict after the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), the first Gulf War in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the GCC has proposed an internationally controlled consortium to supply enriched uranium to Middle Eastern countries.

This suggestion, greeted coldly by Tehran, is "the best guarantee to prevent having atomic arms in the region," said Riad Kahwaji, director of the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

"When a country like Iran has the liberty to enrich uranium, there is a danger that this country will equip itself with atomic weapons," he said.

He said that Arab countries, which have announced their intention to start civilian nuclear programmes, cannot counterbalance Iran’s nuclear ambitions. "Iran has a real nuclear programme which is running and developing, while Arab states simply intend to acquire reactors to produce nuclear energy" without mastering the expertise needed to develop an atomic bomb, he added.

The GCC nuclear programme is the subject of a feasibility study which will be discussed at Doha. "The Gulf monarchies, which have increased the number of their joint military meetings, are seriously worried about the Iranian crisis sliding into an armed conflict," Kahwaji said. "These monarchies will be obliged to intervene in such conflict" if their territory close to Iran was hit, he added.


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