Bloomberg: The U.S. sought to further isolate Iran in the Persian Gulf region over its nuclear weapons program by signing an agreement pledging civilian atomic energy cooperation with Bahrain. By Viola Gienger
March 24 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. sought to further isolate Iran in the Persian Gulf region over its nuclear weapons program by signing an agreement pledging civilian atomic energy cooperation with Bahrain.
The Gulf Arab state affirmed its intention to avoid “sensitive” nuclear arms-related technology and rely on world markets for nuclear fuel, the State Department said today in a statement. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the memorandum of understanding with her counterpart from Bahrain, Sheikh Khaled al-Khalifa.
The U.S. cites its willingness to cooperate on peaceful nuclear power in arguing that Iran should give up uranium enrichment in exchange for help fulfilling its energy needs. Tehran faces a third set of economic sanctions approved March 3 by the United Nations Security Council pressing for an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The agreement signed today “reflects Bahrain’s commitment to serve as a model in the region,” the State Department said. “This stands in direct contrast to Iran’s nuclear activities.”
Bahrain’s government drew praise from the U.S. earlier this month for taking “responsible steps” aimed at preventing an Iran-linked bank from “abusing” the country’s financial system. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf’s oil shipping lanes.
The Bush administration favors nuclear power as a clean alternative to meeting growing world demands for energy.
Signing the nuclear agreement is part of Bahrain’s overall development strategy, the country’s embassy said today in a statement.
“It aims to ensure the stability and diversity of its energy supplies,” the embassy said, citing declining domestic oil and gas supplies and soaring demand worldwide.
At the same time, the pledge fulfills obligations to make certain “that development of civilian nuclear energy takes place in a manner that ensures safety, non-proliferation and peaceful use,” the embassy said.