May 22, 2006

Iran nuclear plans may be environment hazard: UAE

By Heba Kandil

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates said on
Monday Gulf countries planned to hold talks with Iran over
concerns that Tehran's nuclear program could pose an
environmental threat to them.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan
raised the environmental issue at a joint news conference with
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who echoed
long-held Western fears Iran was secretly trying to build
nuclear weapons.

Unlike Iran, Arab states in the region rely on sea water
desalination plants for drinking water. The desert Arabian
Peninsula has no rivers and limited underground water

"If this Gulf is polluted in any way from their nuclear
program it will affect life and the life style of the people in
this region," said Abdullah.

He said a delegation from the U.S.-allied Gulf Cooperation
Council -- a political and economic alliance comprising Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab
Emirates -- would visit Tehran but did not give a date.

"Iran the neighbor, the Islamic state, the partner in trade
and in social ties ... should be patient and show understanding
toward the fears in this region," said Abdullah.

Steinmeier, on a tour of Gulf states, said: "I think we are
in concrete agreement about the threats resulting from a
nuclear program in Iran. We cannot rule out that Iran will be
using this program to develop nuclear weapons."

Gulf Arab states, wary of Iran since its 1979 Islamic
Revolution, share Western concerns that Tehran may be trying to
make nuclear weapons but fear being caught up in a new military
conflict in the region while Iraq remains violence plagued.

Iran says its nuclear program is solely for power
generation and has vowed revenge if attacked by the United
States or Israel.