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Kerry Seeks To Reassure Gulf Allies Over Iran Nuclear Deal

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (file photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking to reassure allies in the Middle East that the Iran nuclear deal will make the region safer.

“There can be absolutely no question that if the [Iran deal] is fully implemented, it will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer than they otherwise would be or were," Kerry told reporters in Cairo on August 2 during the first stop of his trip in the Middle East.

Major world powers and Iran last month agreed on a deal in Vienna that would lift sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

Kerry arrived in the Qatari capital of Doha late on August 2 to meet his counterparts from the six Gulf Cooperation Council member states and discuss the impact of the accord the next day.

Gulf Arab states have publicly welcomed the Iran deal, though several have privately expressed concerns that it will embolden Iran in the region.

The council’s largest and most influential member, Saudi Arabia, has been publicly supportive of the accord, albeit with reservations.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and a member of the royal family, said earlier this year that Riyadh would seek to obtain nuclear capabilities equal to those Iran is allowed to keep under the deal, raising the specter of a nuclear arms race in a region that is already a tinderbox.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

Speaking in Cairo, Kerry said that the United States and Egypt "recognize that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities in the region, and that is why it is so important to ensure that Iran's nuclear program remains wholly peaceful."

He said that Tehran’s role as the "No. 1 state sponsor of terror in the world" made the nuclear accord even more crucial.

"If Iran is destabilizing, it is far, far better to have an Iran that doesn't have a nuclear weapon than one that does," Kerry said.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and The Wall Street Journal