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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018

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Gulf Arab states back Iran nuclear accord after Kerry assurances

US would step up arms sales and intelligence-sharing

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DOHA, Qatar - Persian Gulf Arab states on Monday publicly welcomed the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and world powers during a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who in turn assured that the United States would step up arms sales and intelligence-sharing to counter Iran's "destabilizing activities" in the region.

"This was the best option among other options to come up with a solution .. through dialogue" with Iran, said Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, speaking for the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which he heads. "We are confident that all the efforts that have been exerted make this region very secure, very stable."

At a news conference with Kerry, Attiyah said that the secretary of state had repeated his assurance that the US would stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon if Tehran failed to adhere to the accord.

"We are confident that what they undertook makes this region safer and more stable," he added

"He let us know that there is a going to be live oversight over Iran," al Attiya said of Kerry's presentation. "This is reassuring to the region."

Kerry and the foreign ministers of the GCC also agreed on ways to expedite the military support and training efforts that President Barack Obama promised at a meeting in May at Camp David with senior Gulf state officials. This includes more intelligence-sharing, special forces training and exercises, ballistic-missile defense systems, cyber-security and maritime interdiction of weapons. Kerry also pledged $62 million in humanitarian aid to assist Iraqis displaced by the sectarian violence in their country.

On the basis of Kerry's assurances, Attiyah said the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed the American offers of support.

The GCC support leaves Israel as the only country in the Middle East to oppose the Iranian nuclear agreement, which offers Tehran sanctions relief in return for restrictions on its nuclear programme.

The endorsement by the GCC states Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is a victory for Kerry. Previously, the foreign ministers of those Sunni states had expressed concerns about the deal, fearing that it would give Shiite Iran the means to fund its proxy allies in the region.

Attiyah added that the Gulf Arabs ultimately would like to see a ban on nuclear weapons in the entire Middle East in a pointed reference to Israel which is widely believed to have the bomb.

Kerry said the GCC ministers had agreed that the nuclear agreement "contributes to the region's long-term security, including by preventing Iran from developing or acquiring a military-nuclear capability."

Later Monday in Doha, after Kerry departed for Singapore, the US and GCC issued a joint statement that suggests that the United States would consider using military force if necessary to defend the Gulf countries from invasion.

"The United States reiterated its commitment to working with the GCC to prevent and deter external threats and aggression," it says.

"In the event of such aggression or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determine urgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners."> BNN

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