Monday, May 22, 2006

Iran nuclear plans may be environment hazard -UAE

Heba Kandil, Reuters:
The United Arab Emirates said on Monday Gulf countries planned to hold talks with Iran over concerns that Tehran's nuclear programme could pose an environmental threat to them. READ MORE

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan raised the environmental issue at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who echoed long-held Western fears Iran was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons.

Unlike Iran, Arab states in the region rely on sea water desalination plants for drinking water. The desert Arabian Peninsula has no rivers and limited underground water resources.

"If this Gulf is polluted in any way from their nuclear programme it will affect life and the life style of the people in this region," said Abdullah.

He said a delegation from the U.S.-allied Gulf Cooperation Council -- a political and economic alliance comprising Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- would visit Tehran but did not give a date.

"Iran the neighbour, the Islamic state, the partner in trade and in social ties ... should be patient and show understanding towards the fears in this region," said Abdullah.

Steinmeier, on a tour of Gulf states, said: "I think we are in concrete agreement about the threats resulting from a nuclear programme in Iran. We cannot rule out that Iran will be using this programme to develop nuclear weapons."

Gulf Arab states, wary of Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, share Western concerns that Tehran may be trying to make nuclear weapons but fear being caught up in a new military conflict in the region while Iraq remains violence plagued.

Iran says its nuclear programme is solely for power generation and has vowed revenge if attacked by the United States or Israel.