* Most Gulf states fear nuclear deal will embolden Iran
* Iran’s Zarif urges them to help combat instability
* Discussions also cover Syria, Islamic State (Recasts with Kerry, Attiyah press conference)
By David Brunnstrom and Noah Browning
DOHA, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Iran’s “behaviour” may improve internationally in the wake of its nuclear deal with world powers but Washington and Gulf Arab allies who accuse it of subversion aim to be prepared if that does not happen, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.
Speaking after meeting fellow foreign ministers from the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Qatar, Kerry said that both he and they agreed that once fully implemented, the historic accord would contribute to the region’s security.
But he acknowledged Gulf Arab worries that the accord may hasten detente between Tehran and Washington and embolden Tehran’s Shi’ite Muslim theocracy to support paramilitary allies in a region it sees as oppressed by the West and Israel.
“Our goal is to fully implement this agreement and to hope that Iran’s behaviour will be ameliorated. Obviously we all know about the support of Hezbollah for the Shia militia in Iraq, the support for the Houthi (of Yemen), other involvements in the region, support for terror historically,” Kerry said.
“Now everybody can hope that perhaps there will be a turning of the page, but we are preparing for the possibility that that may not happen.
“So.. we will work with our friends and allies in the region to make certain we are doing the most possible to prevent any kind of external or illegal or inappropriate engagement within a country from destabilising our friends and allies.”
Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah said Gulf Arab states were confident that the agreement between Iran and world powers made the Gulf region safer.
While polite in public about the deal, most Gulf Arab states are privately concerned that Iran’s July 14 accord with the United States and other powers will spell an increase in what they see as Iranian subversion aimed at weakening Gulf Arabs.
Last month, six world powers agreed to lift sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, which the West suspects was aimed at developing an atomic bomb but which Tehran says is for peaceful energy only.
Speaking in Egypt on Sunday, Kerry noted that the United States had long designated Iran as the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror, but this was precisely why it was so important to ensure Tehran did not obtain a nuclear weapon.
RUSSIAN GO-BETWEEN ROLE
Kerry said the ministers discussed missile defence and expediting arms transfers. Additional U.S. cooperation with Gulf states would include intelligence-sharing and special forces training.
He said U.S.-Gulf Arab working groups would start meeting over the next three weeks to develop a detailed agenda for action to “raise the capacity of all of us in the region to be able to push back against destabilising activities”.
Kerry also held trilateral talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on the war in Syria.
Russia has been trying to bring about rapprochement between the Syrian government and regional states including Saudi Arabia and Turkey to forge an alliance to fight Islamic State militants who have taken large amounts of territory in Syria’s civil war.
Kerry said last month he planned to discuss with Lavrov combating Islamic State and the role Iran could play.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote an article published in several Arab newspapers to coincide with the talks, urging Gulf countries to work with Iran to counter a wave on instability in the Middle East.
“We must all accept the fact that the era of zero-sum games is over, and we all win or lose together,” he wrote in Arabic, backing up his statement with passages from the Koran.
Nonetheless, Iran remains in a struggle with Saudi Arabia and its allies for regional primacy. A deadly bombing in Bahrain last week, which the government linked to Iran, was taken by many as a sign Tehran cannot be trusted. (Editing by William Maclean and Mark Heinrich)