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Iranian nukes worry neighboring Bahrain
Ambassador cites Tehran’s claims on ‘province’
Question of the Day
“Iran has had claims in the past on Bahrain,” Ambassador Houda Nonoo said in an interview. “The latest was on their 30th anniversary in February 2009, where they mentioned Bahrain as the 14th province. Very similar to [Saddam Hussein‘s] Iraq mentioning Kuwait as their 19th province.”
“We’re a small country, we’re just across the pond,” she said, noting that the island nation is “just 26 miles away from Bushehr,” the Iranian port city that hosts one of the nuclear program’s key installations. “If Iran has [a nuclear] capability, nobody is going to be able to stop them.”
Bahrain is widely seen as the most vulnerable of the Persian Gulf states, with fears that Iran — which has long spoken of exporting its Shiite Islamic revolution — would try to turn the region’s Shiites against their Sunni leaders.
After months of riots, Bahrain’s Sunni-dominated government recently arrested scores of high-profile opposition figures, all representing the country’s Shiite majority, on charges of plotting a government overthrow.
“I’ve visited Bahrain and spoken to senior Bahraini officials, and although in public they are cautious not to inflame their delicate relations with Iran, they say in private that Iran is a malevolent force against the region in general and Bahrain in particular,” said Simon Henderson, a Gulf analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “At the very least, they fear instability in their own country but also Iranian-supported insurrection and, in a worst-case scenario, an Iranian takeover.”
“If they woke up tomorrow and there was smoke emerging from Natanz after a bombing raid, they would be very happy,” he added, referring to an Iranian nuclear facility.
“They’d be very relieved despite the fallout,” he said. “This is not speculation.”
Ms. Nonoo’s counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba, said publicly in July that he preferred the military option to a nuclear Iran, but Ms. Nonoo declined to express a preference: “That’s the million-dollar question,” she said.
“The sanctions never had a chance of working because they’ve placed so many sanctions before, and they’ve never worked,” she said. “Why was this one going to be any different?”
Iran repeatedly has denied that its nuclear program aims to manufacture an atomic weapon.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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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