U.S. concerned about Iran missiles, committed to Gulf security

ABU DHABI Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:00am EDT

Related Topics

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official signaled optimism on Sunday about a possible resolution of the Iranian nuclear dispute but said Washington remained concerned that Iran's ballistic missiles threatened Gulf Arab states.

Frank Rose, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for space and defense policy, said Washington was "acutely" aware of Gulf Arab states' anxieties about Iran and wanted to help them launch a Gulf-wide coordinated missile defense capability.

"We are optimistic that we'll have a successful resolution of the Iran nuclear issue ... but that doesn't downgrade our concern about Iran's other bad behaviors, specifically their support for terrorism as well as their continued development of ballistic missile capabilities," Rose told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi on missiles and defense.

"As long as Iran continues to develop ballistic missiles that can threaten the United States or deployed forces and our friends and allies in the region, we will work effectively with our partners here in the UAE as well as the rest of the Gulf to defend against that threat."

Iran has one of the biggest missile programs in the Middle East, viewing it as an essential precautionary defense against the United States and other adversaries such as Israel.

The United States and its allies fret that such missiles could potentially carry nuclear warheads.

COORDINATION

The Islamic Republic denies accusations that it is seeking a capability to make nuclear weapons. It insists that the missiles are part of its conventional armed forces and rules out including them on the agenda of the nuclear discussions.

Rose said the priority for United States in the region was to develop a coordinated missile defense system for Gulf Arab states, something the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council lack.

Missiles are not at the heart of the talks over Iran's nuclear work, which centre on the production of fissile material usable in atomic bombs, and Rose made no comments as to whether the topic should be part of the discussions.

Washington and Tehran earlier this year set out contrasting positions on whether missiles should be raised at all during talks on a long-term solution to Iran's nuclear work that are supposed to yield an agreement by late July.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a senior member of Tehran's negotiating team, was in February quoted by state media as saying Iran's defense issues were not negotiable and it had no intention of discussing missile capabilities with the powers.

However, a senior U.S. official noted that a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in 2010 banned all activity by Iran related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, adding: "In some way, this will have to be addressed."

Retired Major General Khaled al-Bu Ainnain, a former commander of UAE Air Force and Air Defense, told the conference Gulf Arab states must improve their anti-missile capabilities.

"Today if there's a cruise missile passing through Qatar and going to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, how to share this information with neighboring countries? There has to be central operating procedures ... We don't have that," Bu Ainnain said.

He played down fears of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

"Is Iran going to do a nuclear (bomb)? I personally don't think so. Even if it acquired nuclear (weapons), will it use it? It will never use it," he said.

(Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by William Maclean and Gareth Jones)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (5)
Logical123 wrote:
Gee, the U.S. is concerned about Iran’s “bad behavior.” We better give them detention after school.

The childish attitude of American officials is hilarious. The U.S. causes mayhem and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and it is talking about the bad behavior of Iran. Talk about audacity and double standards.

Apr 27, 2014 10:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
sabrefencer wrote:
I think, the Iranians march every second, to the bomb..i think, the Iranians are building ballistic missiles, to reach their two most hated enemies..I think the EU and Obama, are being flim flammed, just as Putin, Assad, North Koreans, have done repeatedly to them both…

Apr 27, 2014 11:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
IslamBlows wrote:
As soon as Iran wants to commit suicide, let it attack whoever it wants.

The “Persians” will be obliterated (again).

All it took in ancient times was a young Greek kid with a small army.
How tough can it be to rid the world of them today?
All the sunnis would love to see it too.

Apr 27, 2014 12:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures