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U.A.E. diplomat mulls hit on Iran’s nukes
Prefers strike to armed foe
Iran has been developing uranium-enrichment facilities, some in underground military facilities, in violation of its obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Military specialists have said a strike on as many as two dozen Iranian facilities could set back Tehran’s nuclear program that U.S. officials have said appears on track to build nuclear arms in a period of as little as two years.
The United Arab Emirates is the union of seven Arabian Peninsula emirates, with a historically weak federal government based in Abu Dhabi. The emirate of Dubai has been a banking center for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and was used as a major transshipment point for the cover nuclear-supplier network headed by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan that supplied nuclear technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
Mr. al-Otaiba said that his country would be the last Arab country to cut a deal with Iran, if Tehran were to go nuclear. But he predicted other wealthy Arab states in the Gulf would dump their alliances with the U.S. in favor of ties with Tehran if President Obama does not stop the Islamic republic’s quest to become a nuclear power.
“There are many countries in the region that if they lack assurance that the U.S. is willing to confront Iran, they will start running for cover with Iran,” he said. “Small, rich, vulnerable countries do not want to stick their finger in the big boy’s eye if they do not have the backing of the United States.”
The ambassador also said that “talk of containment and deterrence really concerns me and makes me very nervous.”
He said Iran has not been deterred from supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah now, when it doesn’t have a nuclear arsenal. So why, he asked rhetorically, would Iran be more cautious in its support for terrorism if it did.
“Why should I be led to believe that deterrence and containment will work?” he asked.
Mr. al-Otaiba also said that an Iranian acquisition would set off a nuclear arms race in the region, predicting that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey would all start nuclear programs if Iran acquired such weapons.
He said however that the U.A.E. would not seek to transform its peaceful energy program into a military one in that situation.
The ambassador in the end stressed that his country would not tolerate a nuclear Iran.
“The United States may be able to live with it,” he said. “We can’t.”
• Bill Gertz contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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