Wednesday 13 December 2006
Last Update 13 December 2006 12:00 am
KUWAIT CITY, 13 December 2006 — The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) yesterday urged the United States and the international community yesterday to press for sanctions on Israel for its nuclear program.
Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah, secretary-general of the council, said: “The United States should not apply double standard since it calls for sanctions on countries that have nuclear programs.”
Al-Attiyah’s comments followed an admission by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of his country’s nuclear capabilities.
The US should “seek the implementation of international resolutions, international laws and Chapter 7,” Al-Attiyah added, referring to the section of the United Nation’s Charter that provides for imposing sanctions.
Al-Attiyah, a Qatari diplomat, spoke to journalists on the sidelines of a conference in Kuwait to enhance cooperation between the Gulf states and NATO.
Al-Attiyah said: “I believe it is time now for the international community to see that peace and security are now threatened by this announcement.”
At the conference, Kuwait called for “strategic security cooperation” between NATO and the GCC, while urging the organization to initiate trust-building measures. “Kuwait and the rest of the GCC states are looking forward to building strategic security cooperation with NATO,” said the head of the emirate’s National Security Agency, Sheikh Ahmad Fahd Al-Sabah.
Sheikh Ahmad, however, said the public perception in the region of NATO was of a “Western military alliance that uses military force only to achieve the interests of its members.”
“NATO should initiate confidence-building measures with the people in the region, decision-makers and opinion leaders for them to better appreciate its real goals and intentions for setting up security partnership with the region,” he told the conference.
A large number of delegates from NATO members and GCC states were attending the conference based on the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) launched two years ago by NATO leaders.
Kuwait yesterday signed a security agreement with NATO to regulate the exchange of security information between the 26-member organization and the emirate.
Sheikh Ahmad said any cooperation to succeed must take the form of a “regional security participation within a framework of well-defined agreements ... and NATO should not discriminate between countries.”
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called for enhancing cooperation between NATO and Gulf states because they faced the same threats.
“We face the same threats: terrorism, nuclear proliferation and failed states. We all have a vital strategic interest in a stable Iraq and a stable broader Middle East region. We all share a common interest in energy security,” he said. Scheffer said NATO was adopting a new security approach in a globalized world by trying to find “new answers to new challenges,” and not just to defend Europe against the threat of invasion as was the case during the Cold War.
“We have realized that territorial understanding of security is simply too narrow in an age of global threats,” he said.
“Rather than wait for challenges to come to us, we must be prepared to meet challenges where they emerge, even if that mean deploying far away from our traditional European perimeter,” he added.
Scheffer said that cooperation between NATO and Gulf states had already increased in the fields of political contacts, intelligence sharing and military interoperability.
The gathering took place a days after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah warned a summit of Gulf leaders that the Middle East, from the Palestinian territories to Iraq, was like a powder keg waiting to explode.
The six Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman — announced Sunday that they were considering a shared nuclear program for peaceful purposes.