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French Version

GCC wastes no time asking IAEA for help with proposed nuclear program

Gulf states have sought the assistance of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency for their planned nuclear technology program, Kuwait's foreign minister said Sunday. "We have actually started contacts with the IAEA to inquire about the fields it can help with to complete a study to use nuclear technology," said Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders at a two-day summit in Riyadh last week ordered a study to formulate a joint program for the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

"The decision was not a reaction to the behavior of any country," Sheikh Mohammad said in response to a question on whether the plan was aimed at countering the controversial Iranian nuclear program.

"This reflects the GCC's deep conviction that the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes is the absolute right of every country as long as it fully complies with international charters for the use of nuclear energy," he said.

Sheikh Mohammad's comments came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a Kuwaiti envoy that Iran was ready to share its nuclear know-how with other countries in the region.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to transfer to regional states its valuable experience and achievements in the field of peaceful nuclear technology as a clean energy source and as a replacement for oil," Ahmadinejad told Mohammad Dhaifullah Sharar, a special envoy of Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Television also quoted Ahmadinejad as welcoming the GCC's decision to acquire peaceful nuclear technology.

The GCC groups energy-rich Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, all neighbors of Iran.

Such a technological transfer would be legal as long as it is between signatory states to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and as long as the IAEA was informed of the transfer.

Western negotiators are pushing for sanctions after Iran ignored a previous Security Council resolution calling for it to stop enriching uranium.

But the Iranian Foreign Ministry said Sunday Iran will continue its nuclear program even if the UN Security Council imposes sanctions. Ahmadinejad also brushed off the threat of sanctions, telling state television that "the nuclear case is already finished. We have closed it."

"Our nation conquered the peak" of nuclear technology."

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Husseini said his government would respond to the draft resolution "in due time."

"We will continue [our nuclear activities] even if sanctions are imposed," Husseini said.

Edgar Vasquez, a US State Department spokesman, said Saturday Iran's continued defiance represents "a serious threat" to maintaining peace and stability in the region.

"We expect Iran to comply with international obligations under the NPT and its safeguards agreement with the IAEA," Vasquez said.

Amman,12 26 2006
The Daily Star
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