Arabs and Iran row

CONSIDERING present circumstances, the Saudi proposal that Iran agree to a joint Arab uranium enrichment proposal outside the region to defuse its nuclear standoff with the West is perhaps the most pragmatic way of cracking the nut.

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Published: Sat 3 Nov 2007, 8:32 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:59 AM

Though the proposal was first forwarded to Teheran about a year ago, when GCC states mulled over initiating a combined enrichment programme of their own and met with a cold response, the Ahmadinejad dispensation finds the idea “interesting” this time, which is appreciated.

Significantly, the previous proposal came not long after the Russian offer of enriching Iran’s uranium on the former’s soil. But Teheran reluctantly bowed out of both offers because of sensitivities involved in transferring its enrichment capabilities outside its boundaries. Also, the idea that it was being made to bend when it was in no way violating the NPT did not sit well with Teheran.

But two things have changed since then. First, constant Russian and Chinese no to stricter UN measures is making the likelihood of unilateral US military strikes that much more real. And second, King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia is indeed playing a corrective diplomatic role to safeguard the region’s strategic interests. Calling Iran a “great nation”, the Saudis seem to understand its frustration at not being allowed to play its natural “leading role” in the region, before pointing out that the moment requires the leading role to be one that saves the Middle East from more chaos and carnage. Hence the mellowing of the Iranian response.

The ball is again in Iran’s court. The GCC is justified in its anxiety, and appreciated in its initiative. It is clear that the West will have little remorse about bringing more instability and worse, more bloodshed to the Gulf in a bid to further its own interests. So, the sooner the region realises it will have to solve its own problems, in a united manner, the better.

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