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Iran's Nukes

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UAE Ambassador Endorses Preemptive Bombing of Iran

July 7th 2010

Arab Topics - Youssef al Otaiba
Yousef al-Otaiba

In an extraordinary exchange, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba explained his views – and fears – of a nuclear Iran.  Speaking on July 6, 2010 at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Ambassador expressed openly to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and The  Washington Times’ Eli Lake what other Arab diplomats usually say privately.

When Goldberg asked the Ambassador, “Do you want the U.S. to stop the Iranian nuclear program by force?” he responded candidly, "Absolutely, absolutely. I think we are at risk of an Iranian nuclear program far more than you are at risk. At 7,000 miles away, and with two oceans bordering you, an Iranian nuclear threat does not threaten the continental United States. It may threaten your assets in the region, it will threaten the peace process, it will threaten balance of power, it will threaten everything else, but it will not threaten you."

He went on to say, "I am suggesting that I think out of every country in the region, the U.A.E. is most vulnerable to Iran. Our military, who has existed for the past 40 years, wake up, dream, breathe, eat, sleep the Iranian threat. It's the only conventional military threat our military plans for, trains for, equips for, that's it, there's no other threat, there's no country in the region that is a threat to the U.A.E., it's only Iran. So yes, it's very much in our interest that Iran does not gain nuclear technology."

Emirati officials have long feared the presence and influence of Iran so close to its shores.  Sitting menacingly just north of their federated Emirates, officials there have expressed apprehension over the Iranian regime’s plans.  With this in mind, the Ambassador warned of the consequences if the United States failed to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, suggesting that Gulf states would abandon the United States in favor of an alliance with Iran to curry the regime’s favor.  The UAE, he said, would be the last to settle with Iran.

“We are very concerned with Iran’s behavior in the region,” complaining that Iran occupies three U.A.E. islands and refuses to arbitrate, adding that Iran’s activities with Hezbollah and Hamas are part of a larger picture.

Lake and The Washington Times quoted Mr. al-Otaiba who said, "I think it's a cost-benefit analysis. I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what."

"If you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran?,' my answer is still the same: 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.' I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the U.A.E."

House intelligence committee chair Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) told The Washington Times, "I have never heard an Arab government official say that before. He was stunningly candid." An audio record of al-Otaiba’s remarks can be heard here.

Within the past few weeks, the international community, as well as the United States have enacted further economic and trade sanctions to punish the Iranian regime including a U.S. law forbidding gasoline exports to Iran to enforce procedures to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear status.  Questions remain whether these sanctions will really be able to prevent the advance of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Cutting Edge human rights analyst Gregg J. Rickman served as the first U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism from 2006–2009.

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