Sunday, December 18, 2005

GCC reverses position on Iran's nuclear program

Muawia E. Ibrahim, Khaleej Times:
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) seems to have reversed its position on Iran's nuclear plans, describing it as not "worrisome."

The head of the six-member bloc, Shaikh Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah, GCC Secretary General, said in a statement on Saturday night ahead of the on-going 26th GCC Summit in Abu Dhabi, that the Council was no more worried about Teheran's programme.

"We in the Gulf region are not worried about Iran's nuclear programme," he told reporters after the GCC Ministerial Council's meeting late in the night at the Emirate Palace, the venue of the summit.

However, Attiyah set a condition that their position would continue to be supportive as long as Teheran's programme is designed for peaceful purposes.

"It's not worrisome as long as it is restricted to peaceful use," he stated, warning that if it is proved otherwise, it wouldn't be justifiable and the issue wouldn't be ignored. READ MORE

In a recent statement, Attiyah had said Iran's nuclear ambitions pose a threat to member countries of the GCC and NATO.

He called on NATO to press for the elimination of nuclear arms in Gulf region so that it does not become a "sandwich" between Israel and Iran.

Attiyah unveiled a new initiative involving GCC member states, Iran, Iraq, and Yemen, aimed at ensuring a Middle East region, including the Gulf, free of any weapons of mass destruction.

"We will be announcing very soon an agreement between the GCC states, Iran and Iraq, when it becomes stable, and Yemen, to ensure a Middle East region free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Our move is to further interact positively with the international community which fights against WMD proliferation," Attiyah stated.

On the recent statement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in which he suggested that Israel should be relocated to Austria or Germany to rid the region of the danger posed by Israel, Attiyah said: "The Iranian President cares about the Palestinian people's cause and extends support to the Palestinians in their long struggle against the Israeli occupation. Therefore, we cannot underestimate the Iranian position towards the Palestinians."

Iran's hardline President also angered Israel by calling openly for it to be "wiped off the map."

He said the GCC leaders' meeting would discuss relations with Iran from the Islamic brotherhood perspective and the basis of friendly-neighbours.

He, however, said the issue of Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs remains alive, and called on Teheran to continue peace negotiations with the UAE and refer the matter to the International Court of Justice to reach a solution.

Returning to the issue of Iran's nuclear programme, Attiyah said: "We don't want to see Iran's nuclear reactor which is closer to our Gulf coast than to Teheran posing a threat to us."

The head of the GCC called on Iran to be rational while dealing with the issue of nuclear reactors i.e., to work towards meeting its peaceful purposes rather than harming its neighbours.

On the GCC's position towards Israel's nuclear programme, Attiyah said the super powers in the (international) Security Council should pressurise Israel to open its nuclear facilities for inspection so that it does not continue to threaten the security and stability of the region.

But the repeated calls of the GCC Summits to the international community to pressurise Israel to give up its nuclear programme, according to analysts, do not seem to hold water.

Critics say that all such calls to international community to pressurise Israel or for Israel to give up its nuclear programmes usually go in vain.

"As far as I remember, all such calls are just a waste of time. Israel is not listening to such calls and actually doesn't care about us. Enjoying full support of the US which deals with us on the basis of the "declared" double standard policy, Israel doesn't seem to care about what we say or do," a Gulf political analyst said on the sidelines of the summit.