UAE Toughens Stance over Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

UAE Toughens Stance over Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

Tension between Iran and the United Arab Emirates is rising after the UAE became the first Gulf state to publicly signal endorsement of military force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, should peaceful efforts to resolve the standoff over Tehran's nuclear program fail. The UAE also restricted Iran's use of Dubai to imports goods sanctioned by the United Nations and the United States.

In a statement, the UAE Foreign Ministry described recorded remarks made by UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, at a conference in Colorado as "inaccurate." Nonetheless, the remarks offer a rare insight into the thinking behind closed doors of a key U.S. ally, and reflect mounting UAE frustration with Iran's refusal to resolve a dispute over the Islamic Republic's longstanding occupation of three strategic islands at the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz.

In his remarks, Otaiba described a nuclear-armed Iran as the foremost threat to the UAE, and one that needs to be neutralized at whatever cost. In doing so, he signaled growing recognition in the Gulf that the Obama administration was unlikely to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, something that many have argued would reduce regional tension and make Iran more amenable to a peaceful resolution of the nuclear standoff. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia stressed the importance of the linkage during his visit to Washington last month.

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