Bloomberg: The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the U.S. said his country is checking its trade connections with Iran to be sure they don’t violate United Nations sanctions over the Iranian nuclear program.
By Camilla Hall and Ali Sheikholeslami
Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) — The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the U.S. said his country is checking its trade connections with Iran to be sure they don’t violate United Nations sanctions over the Iranian nuclear program.
“We do a significant amount of trade with Iran; it cannot be all illicit and it can’t be all illegal,” Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba told reporters today in Abu Dhabi. “What we’re trying to do is sift the good from the bad.”
Al-Otaiba said the scrutiny involves intelligence cooperation, law enforcement and the emirates’ export controls. His comments echoed those of Foreign Affairs Minister Anwar Gargash, who told reporters earlier today in Abu Dhabi that it’s “important to have that balance right” between commitments to UN resolutions and undertaking legitimate trade.
The U.A.E.’s central bank asked financial institutions in the federation to freeze 41 bank accounts of Iranian individuals and companies in compliance with a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran that were approved on June 9, Emirates Business 24/7 reported on June 28, citing a bank circular. The U.S. and the European Union last month followed the UN sanctions with tighter measures of their own against Iran.
The U.S. and many of its allies say the Iranian nuclear program may be aimed at producing weapons. Iran, the second- largest producer of oil in the Middle East, denies the allegation, saying it needs nuclear energy for civilian purposes, such as electricity generation.
“There’s more cohesiveness in the international community than before,” al-Otaiba said. “You saw that in the Russia and China position in the UN, you saw it when the U.S. sanctions came out weeks after the UN, and the EU weeks after that. So the world seems to be united on the Iran issue. We want to know what that means for the U.A.E.”
The UN restrictions bar financial transactions if they may have a nuclear purpose. On July 1, the U.S. blocked access to the American financial system for banks that do business with Iran. On July 26, the EU restricted export-credit guarantees and insurance and ordered closer monitoring for such banks.
“We are 100 percent behind the diplomatic solution; we support President Obama’s two-track strategy, sanctions and engagement,” al-Otaiba said. “A military engagement would destabilize an already unstable region.”
Al-Otaiba said last month an attack on Iran may be necessary if sanctions fail to halt the country’s nuclear program, the Washington Times reported, citing remarks the U.A.E. diplomat made in a July 6 event in Aspen, Colorado. Today, he declined to comment on his earlier remarks.