Reuters: Iran can help its Gulf neighbors develop peaceful nuclear energy, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday, in comments which might irritate major powers fearing Tehran’s own atomic work is aimed at building bombs. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran can help its Gulf neighbors develop peaceful nuclear energy, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday, in comments which might irritate major powers fearing Tehran’s own atomic work is aimed at building bombs.
Manouchehr Mottaki, whose country has rejected Western demands to halt sensitive nuclear activities, was speaking a week after Gulf Arab states meeting in Riyadh began working on a feasibility study for a civilian nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries share Western suspicions that Iran’s nuclear energy plans may lead to it acquiring atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Their program has raised concerns in the West about a regional arms race with Iran, which faces a possible third round of U.N. sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.
“Iran, under the supervision of the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency), can cooperate with the Gulf countries in offering technology and is serious about it,” Mottaki told a conference on the Gulf in Tehran, the ISNA news agency said.
The IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, last week said Iran was making substantial advances in uranium enrichment, ignoring world demands. Refined uranium can be used for nuclear fuel or, if enriched further, provide material for bombs.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a major energy producing group that includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, agreed with the IAEA in February to cooperate in early preparations for atomic energy.
Mottaki said Iran backed talks between GCC head Abdul-Rahman al-Attiya and the IAEA’s Mohamed ElBaradei.
“The Riyadh meeting decided to start activities for allowing the Gulf countries to use peaceful nuclear energy,” Mottaki said. “We support these talks (between Attiya and ElBaradei) and we are ready to cooperate in its peaceful field.”
While not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel is widely assumed to possess nuclear weapons and is seen as more of a threat than Iran by most Arabs.