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Bahrain seeks to ‘clarify’ comments on Iran as threat
In an interview with The Washington Times, Ambassador Houda Nonoo said, “We’re a small country. We are just across the pond. It’s a small gulf — we are just 26 miles away from Bushehr [an Iranian nuclear site]. So if Iran becomes nuclear, then it will become an issue.”
“The latest claim was on their 30th anniversary in February 2009, where they mentioned Bahrain as the 14th province,” Ms. Nonoo said. “Very similar to [Saddam Hussein‘s] Iraq mentioning Kuwait as their 19th province. We don’t want to go down that way. Bahrain has to be independent. We don’t want to have anybody else taking over.… If Iran has [a nuclear] capability, nobody is going to be able to stop them.”
She also cast doubt on the efficacy of current sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, saying they “never had a chance of working.”
In a statement posted on the state-run Bahrain News Agency, the Foreign Ministry said: “It appears that [the ambassador’s comments] may have been inaccurately reported, or have been misinterpreted or misunderstood, and the ministry is pleased to further develop and place [them] in context.”
Ms. Nonoo could not be reached for comment Monday.
“Bahrain has consistently made clear its support for the right of all states to the peaceful civilian use of nuclear energy, transparently and in accordance with the relevant international framework and safeguards,” the statement said. “Bahrain has made clear on a number of occasions that the Islamic Republic of Iran is no exception to this right.”
“At the same time, Bahrain has also called on Iran to demonstrate full transparency and co-operation with the international community, including the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], to address any concerns over its nuclear program. The Ambassador’s remarks were not intended to, and did not, deviate or detract from this consistently established position.”
Iran repeatedly has said its nuclear program is not aiming to make an atomic bomb.
At a public forum in July, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba said: “If you are asking me, ‘Am I willing to live with [the fallout from a preventive strike on Iran] versus living with a nuclear Iran,’ my answer is still the same: We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.” The UAE Foreign Ministry immediately claimed that his comments had been taken out of context and that the country rejects the military option.
“This is the game,” said Toby Jones, professor of Middle East history at Rutgers University. “The Bahrainis — like the Saudis, like the Kuwaitis — are attempting to balance a couple of things.
“One is to maintain the correct diplomatic posture with the Iranians and to concede on technicalities where the Iranians are in the right, while at the same time making clear periodically that the Iranians are up to no good — and then subsequently denying it.
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About the Author
Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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