The UAE does not have a problem with rapprochement with Iran but that any talks of a nuclear deal need to be conditional and participatory, a UAE diplomat told CNBC during an interview.
“We need to be able to engage also with the Biden administration, with the Iranians, with the region. I think that was the problem with the JCPOA [nuclear deal], is that it didn’t take our concerns into account. It treated us as bystanders and spectators when we felt that it was directly concerned with our security,” said UAE’s Assistant Minister of Culture and Public Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry Omar Ghobash.
US President-elect Joe Biden has stated his intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal, if Tehran fully complies with the agreement. The original nuclear deal signed under the Obama administration between Iran and international actors did not include the Gulf states and Israel and did not tackle Iran’s ballistic missile program and proxies in the region.
“We do business with Iran and we have sort of a significant Iranian population here. We don’t have an issue with that. We do have an issue with ballistic missiles, nuclear technology, looking at a nuclear weapon and the corrosive influence that they have on many Arab economies. So, if we can put an end to all of that, fantastic, everybody would be very happy to deal with Iran and on an equal basis when we think about how this is all going to play out in the future,” he added.
Ghobash added that it’s kind of “low hanging fruit” to use the UAE’s relationship with Israel to present a more unified position across the region in terms of what happens with Iran.
“We do have common interests [with Israel], it’s clear, because we stand on the side of stopping nuclear proliferation in the region and we stand on the side of sort of developing local economies and developing our human resources. In that sense, we stand on the same side, how the Biden administration will take that into account, it’s something that we all need to work on,”
“We in the Emirates are a positive influence. The Gulf states are a positive influence. And it’s our belief that the Biden administration and the group of nations that have been negotiating with Iran take us on board and see the positive influence that we can bring to discussions on Iran,” Ghobash added.