NUKEWARS


by Staff Writers
Muscat (AFP) March 13, 2014

 

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Shiite Iran on Thursday sought to allay concerns among mainly Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab monarchies mistrustful of Tehran over its nuclear ambitions.

“Our message to the other countries of the Persian Gulf is a message of friendship, fraternity and cooperation,” Zarif said in the Omani capital Muscat, where he is accompanying President Hassan Rouhani on a landmark visit.

The sultanate maintains strong links with Tehran, and has played an important intermediary role between Western countries and the Islamic republic.

Gulf Arab countries have expressed concern about the reliability of Iran’s sole nuclear power plant at Bushehr and the risk of radioactive leaks in case of a major earthquake, as well as a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear drive.

Iran insists that its atomic ambitions are peaceful, despite fears in Israel and the West that these mask a covert drive to acquire the bomb.

“Iran is ready for strong and fraternal relations with all the states of the region,” said Zarif, who has embarked on a charm offensive towards the Gulf since Rouhani became Iran’s president in August.

 

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NUKEWARS

Iran’s Rouhani extends hand to Gulf monarchies


by Staff Writers
Muscat (AFP) March 13, 2014

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sought Thursday to mend fences between his mainly-Shiite country and Sunni-dominated Gulf monarchies distrustful of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its support of the Syrian regime.

Rouhani, winding up a two-day visit to Oman, said the Islamic republic offered “a hand of fraternity to all the countries of the region.”

“Relations with one country should not grow at the expense of another. We want to see the countries of the region live in peace, understanding and friendship,” Rouhani told a business gathering in Muscat.

The sultanate maintains strong links with Iran and has played an important role as mediator between Western countries and Tehran.

But other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which besides Oman also comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have cool relations with Tehran.

Its Arab neighbours have expressed concern about the reliability of Iran’s sole nuclear power plant at Bushehr in the southern Gulf and the risk of radioactive leaks should it be hit by a major earthquake.

Like world powers, they also fear a possible military dimension to Iran’s nuclear drive, despite repeated assertions by Tehran that its atomic ambitions are peaceful.

Ties between Gulf countries and Iran have also been strained by Tehran’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in its battle against rebels supported by the Arab monarchies.

“Cooperation and rapprochement would benefit the whole region,” said Rouhani, adding that his country is “open to investors from the region, especially Omanis.”

Oman and Iran are seeking to expand trade, which reached $1 billion last year, and bilateral investments which they expect will top $10 billion by the end of this year, Iranian Ambassador Ali Akbar Sibeveih said Monday.

 

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