In good time for their summit in Manama, Bahrain, on December 12, the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – GCC – drafted a resolution calling for the entire Persian Gulf region to be proclaimed free of nuclear arms.
UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan was the live wire behind the idea to diplomatically push Iran into backing away from its nuclear ambitions. After all, he calculated, Tehran claims its program is purely for the peaceful purpose of manufacturing electricity, so the Islamic Republic could hardly object to this text. Furthermore, the ban would be strictly applied to the introduction to Iraq and Persian Gulf waters of American nuclear weapons, nuclear submarines and ships carrying nuclear arms.
However, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Gulf sources reveal the UAR president was in for a nasty surprise. The objection came from Arab League secretary Amr Moussa.
In a heated speech, Moussa declared that on no account must Gulf rulers turn the Iranian nuclear question into an Arab issue. The matter must be left in the hands of the UN nuclear watchdog director, Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei. So determined was Moussa, that Sheikh Nahyan asked him sarcastically if he was speaking as an Egyptian or as Arab League Secretary, adding “You are here on an ugly mission.”
This was a broad hint that Moussa was under orders from Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to torpedo the UAR initiative at the request of Washington and the Egyptian IAEA director.
Al-Nahyan then sought to enlist the backing of Saudi defense minister Prince Sultan for pushing the resolution through, but Sultan preferred to stay out of the row. Oman and Qatar went along with the Egyptian position.