News headlines


Riyadh, Dec 11: Gulf Arab countries want to acquire nuclear energy capability and have ordered a study on a possible joint atomic programme, a statement issued at the close of a two-day Gulf Cooperation Council summit said yesterday.

''The countries of the region have the right to nuclear energy technology for peaceful purposes,'' GCC chief Abdul-Rahman al-Attiya told a closing session of the meeting in Riyadh.

The statement from the six-nation bloc comes amid concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions, as well as long-standing Arab suspicion over Israel's presumed nuclear weapons.

The GCC, which groups Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, also said it would push ahead with plans for a European Union-style economic union in the world's top oil exporting region.

But in a setback, officials said that Oman had decided it would not manage to meet the economic conditions for a 2010 deadline for the single currency, raising questions about whether other countries might also delay entry.

Known for conservative political and economic policies, the Gulf Arab countries maintain close alliances with the United States and share US concern over growing Iranian power.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter and home to Islam's holiest sites, wants to check what it views as the creeping influence of the Shi'ite Muslim nation in the Arab region through support for Lebanese group Hezbollah, Shi'ite parties in Iraq and Tehran's alliance with Syria.

The GCC countries are mainly Sunni, with Shi'ite minorities, though Shi'ites are a majority in the island kingdom of Bahrain.

Peaceful energy?

Saudi officials say that a nuclear Iran could spur a regional arms race, hinting that Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, could look to acquire the technology too.

Today's statement urged Iran to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear programme, which Western countries led by the United States suspect is aimed at acquiring atomic weapons.

Tehran says the programme is peaceful.

It also called on Israel to cooperate with international bodies over its nuclear energy facilities.

The GCC said its own nuclear programme would be aimed at meeting energy needs. ''The higher committee ordered a GCC-wide study to be carried out to create a joint programme in nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, according to international standards and arrangements,'' the final statement said.

At least six Arab countries are developing domestic nuclear power programmes to diversify energy sources, the Middle East Economic Digest reported last month.

It said Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have shown interest in developing nuclear power primarily for water desalination. Similar plans by the United Arab Emirates and Tunisia were only at an early stage.

The Gulf Arab leaders warned of civil strife in Lebanon, where opposition parties led by Shi'ite group Hezbollah are seeking to topple the Western- and Saudi-backed cabinet of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

''All Lebanese must work for unity and supporting constitutional institutions ... to avoid hurting Lebanon's stability, unity and independent decision-making,'' it said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal later pledged Saudi support for Lebanon.


Top Stories

Leave a Comment

Title: News headlines

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will be held responsible.