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06MANAMA595 2006-04-12 13:43:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manama
Cable title:  

U/S JOSEPH DISCUSSES IRAN AND PSI WITH BAHRAINI FM

Tags:   ASEC PARM PGOV PREL BA IR OFFICIALS REGION CTR 
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1. (C) Summary: Foreign Minister Shaikh Khaled Bin Ahmed Al
Khalifa told Arms Control and International Security U/S
Robert Joseph April 8 that the GOB shares U.S. concerns about
Iran's export of terrorism and development of nuclear
weapons. He gave strong indications that Bahrain would
support the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).
Although he expressed the need to notify Bahrain's leadership
and neighbors before giving official support to the PSI, he
said the GOB would move forward with or without others in the
GCC and would make all efforts to convince them to take this
step together. He also pledged Bahrain's support in cracking
down on Iranian banks or front companies suspected to be
involved in illicit activities. End Summary.



2. (C) Meeting with Foreign Minister Shaikh Khaled, U/S
Joseph conveyed U.S. concern over Iran's continuing --
indeed, accelerating -- nuclear program. Progress in that
program is notable ever since January; it is clear they have
"both feet on the accelerator" on their nuclear weapons
program. This is a direct threat to U.S. interests and to
those of our friends and allies. While the United States
clearly seeks an acceptable diplomatic solution to this
growing threat, U/S Joseph reiterated the need to move
forward with a broad range of "defensive measures": denial
and interdiction efforts such as the PSI, measures to counter
WMD financing and the growing use of front companies to
covertly advance WMD-related activities;
counter-proliferation planning, as well as combined exercises
and training; and cooperation on other defense, dissuasion,
and deterrence measures, such as passive and active defenses,
together with appropriate declaratory policies. Pursuing
such measures on a bilateral and, as appropriate,
multilateral basis, will reinforce the prospects for
diplomatic success and at the same time defend U.S. interests.



3. (C) Shaikh Khaled said that Bahrain is "really worried"
about Iran. Bahrain is a true ally of the United States and
shares the U.S. view of the threat Iran poses to the region
and to the world. He observed that when he visited Tehran
recently, Iranian officials continually repeated the mantra
that their nuclear program is a "peaceful program that we
have a right to pursue." Shaikh Khaled asked rhetorically
why the Iranians would need to repeatedly say this if they
were indeed merely talking about electricity production. In
his view, Iran constituted a "clear and present threat." He
went on to say, "We don't believe their program is peaceful."
Shaikh Khaled mentioned that he would be meeting with
Iranian Foreign Policy Chief and top nuclear negotiator Ali
Larijani April 9, who was on a tour of Gulf countries.



4. (C) Shaikh Khaled went on to say that Iran has concocted
a deadly mixture of religion, terror and nuclear capability.
It has accelerated the process of certifying clerics as
"ayatollahs" and is sending them out to neighboring countries
in an effort to spread the revolution. He said, "The export
of the Iranian revolution is the export of terror." Bahrain
recognizes its responsibilities; it is not asking to be
defended but as an ally is ready to work together on the
front lines. He recognized the need for increased training
of the Bahrain Defense Forces and expressed his appreciation
for the U.S. concern for the region, U.S. help against
Iranian aggression, and U.S. assistance to keep the Straits
of Hormuz clear. In addition to Iran, he expressed GOB
concern that Iraq be stabilized and that Hizbollah be dealt
with, thereby leading to greater stability in Lebanon.



5. (C) When asked for Bahrain's commitment to the PSI,
Shaikh Khaled said that the GOB will finalize its position as
soon as its entire leadership is familiar with the issue.
However, he assured U/S Joseph, "Whether other GCC countries
move on the PSI or not, we will move ahead. But we need to
notify our neighbors that we are taking this step. We will
not wait, just as we did not wait with the FTA. And we will
not spare any effort to convince other GCC countries that we
all need to move forward in this way." He expressed his
confidence that Kuwait would be receptive to U.S. PSI
proposals, and specifically mentioned his intention to
discuss the issue with Kuwaiti FM Shaikh Mohamed.



6. (C) Regarding the financial front in the battle against
proliferation, Shaikh Khaled said that the GOB will close any
Iranian bank or front company suspected to be involved in
illicit activities benefiting Iran. He also said that
Bahrain would apply U.N. sanctions against Iran completely if
and when they are introduced.



7. (U) U/S Joseph has cleared this cable.


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