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Iran Says ‘Irresponsible’ GCC Raises Regional Tensions

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa called Iran’s nuclear program a “very serious” threat. Photographer: Mahmud Hams /AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council was risking a regional crisis with its unfounded criticisms and heightened military focus.

The GCC this week announced it will coordinate air, land, and marine forces under one structure, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said after a meeting of heads of state in Manama. Sheikh Khalid also called Iran’s nuclear program a “very serious” threat.

“Certain countries, by making irresponsible comments, are advancing toward creating tension and crisis in the region,” Mehmanparast said in a report published today by the state-run Mehr news agency.

Iran’s nuclear program is in line with “international laws and conventions and in particular, those of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Mehmanparast said. He said the country’s Bushehr nuclear facility has “the highest international standards.”

While IAEA officials routinely inspect Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, such as enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordo, existing treaty arrangements don’t compel the country to open up peripheral facilities.

“Iran’s nuclear program not only is a security threat to the region, but also an environmental threat,” Sheikh Khalid said.

The relationship between the Islamic Republic and the agency has grown increasingly acrimonious since Iranian officials accused the IAEA of spying on behalf of Western powers.

Iranian Invitation

Iran has several times invited countries in the region to visit its Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant as a show of goodwill, Mehmanparast said today.

The IAEA has identified its top goal in Iran as being a visit to Parchin, a sprawling military base about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Tehran. The IAEA says it was given intelligence information showing Iran may have constructed a blast chamber for testing nuclear-weapons components at the site. Iran says the evidence given to the IAEA by unnamed countries was forged, that it hasn’t worked on developing an atomic weapon and its nuclear activities are aimed at securing energy and for medical research.

The GCC, which includes the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, has also accused Shiite-led Iran of intervening in the internal affairs of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, home to three-fifths of the world’s oil reserves.

“Regional countries, by diverting the responsibility for their domestic problems to outside, are fleeing from realities,” Mehmanparast said. “This isn’t a correct method to address people’s demands.”

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