UAE GOING NUCLEAR
The ambassador from the United Arab Emirates is lobbying Congress about a deal that would supply nuclear energy to the oil-rich Persian Gulf federation, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by a key Republican is opposing the transaction, claiming the UAE is doing too little to stop neighboring Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba insists that the deal would provide high security standards to prevent the spread of nuclear material from the UAE, a major U.S. ally in the region.
"Representatives of the U.S. administration and the UAE government are working closely with members of Congress to inform them about the agreement and seek their views," he told the state-owned WAM news service in the capital, Abu Dhabi.
"The proposed agreement sets a new standard in ensuring the highest standards of safety and security and non-proliferation within the UAE program."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice supports the proposal and signed a memorandum of understanding in April with the UAE. Under the agreement, the emirates promise to be a "responsible partner," and the United States agrees to supply material and components for nuclear energy plants.
However, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, of Florida, the highest-ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that would block the deal unless the UAE agrees to provide more help in international efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The bill also would require the UAE to enact more stringent safeguards on the transfer of nuclear technology.
Mr. al-Otaiba, who presented his credentials to President Bush in July, has noted that his country supports U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.N. efforts in Kosovo and Somalia.
The UAE, a federation of seven emirates, is located across the Persian Gulf from Iran, a nation that dwarfs its neighbor both in population and size. Iran has 68 million residents living in 636,000 square miles, while the UAE has 4.3 million residents in 32,000 square miles.
Despite their statistical differences, the two countries have close relations. Iran is the UAE's largest trading partner.
The controversy over the nuclear deal in Congress comes more than 2 1/2 years after Democratic and Republican leaders killed a proposed deal by Dubai Ports World, located in the UAE's largest city, to operate dock facilities at 22 American seaports.
Citing security concerns, a House committee voted 62-2 to block the deal in March 2006. The Dubai firm later dropped plans to operate the ports.
The Bosnian ambassador sent an early Christmas card to friends she made and colleagues she met in her three years in Washington, as she bid an effusive farewell to America.
"I simply cannot imagine any other task that I might have undertaken at this point in my life that could have matched this experience. It was unique!" Bisera Turkovic said in an e-mail last week.
Bosnia, which became synonymous with genocidal warfare in the early 1990s, is now a peaceful nation divided between its former ethnic enemies into a Serbian republic and a Muslim-Croat federation. The two political entities operate with broad autonomy under a weaker national government, which is itself under international supervision.
"I deeply believe in the future of my country, and I am convinced that the United States will have a vital role to play for a long time to come in consolidating, strengthening and cooperating with a stable and prosperous Bosnia," she said.
The Clinton administration negotiated an end to the 1992-1995 war in an agreement known as the Dayton Accords.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail James Morrison.