Secret U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks reveal distress among Mideast nations over Iran with some leaders urging the U.S. to take whatever steps necessary to halt its nuclear program.
Summaries of discussions with Mideast leaders between 2006 and 2009 — published Sunday on the New York Times website, among others — indicate at least two countries favoured U.S. military action to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
During a meeting on Nov. 4, 2009, between Bahrain's King Hamad and U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, the king argued forcefully for U.S. action against Iran, saying: "That program must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it."
The account is included in a summary of the meeting sent to Washington by the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia also urged the U.S. to take a hard line against Iran. A summary of a meeting on April 20, 2008, between U.S. officials and Saudi King Abdullah noted the king's frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and put an end to its nuclear weapons program.
"He told you to cut off the head of the snake," Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S. is quoted as saying.
"The foreign minister also stated that the use of military pressure against Iran should not be ruled out," the summary said, while noting that the minister called for "much more severe U.S. and international sanctions on Iran."
However, the United Arab Emirates took a softer line on Iran, according to a summary of a meeting on April 29, 2006, with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and his brother, who was foreign minister.
"As tensions escalate between Iran and the international community, the UAE is growing increasingly nervous," the ambassador reported. "Although the UAE regards Iran as one of its most serious threats to national security, UAE officials are reluctant to take actions that could provoke their neighbor and compromise their extensive trading relationship."
Not surprisingly, Israel encouraged a hardline stance on Iran.
A summary prepared June 2, 2009, of two meetings in Tel Aviv with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak quoted him as saying "no option should be removed from the table" when confronting Iran and North Korea.
Barak added that engagement with Iran would only work in conjunction with a credible military option, it said.
The summary, prepared by the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said, "Mr. Barak had argued that the world had six to 18 months 'in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable.' After that, Mr. Barak said 'any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.'"
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