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Gulf officials hold emergency meet over Iran’s nuclear proximity

Iran denies it wants nuclear arms and says its atomic work is for electricity generation and other civil uses. (AFP)

Gulf environmental officials on Sunday held an emergency meeting in Saudi Arabia’s capital to discuss possible threats posed to surrounding Gulf countries by the Iranian nuclear plant in Bushehr.

Last week, a powerful earthquake struck close to Iran’s plant, killing 32 people and injuring 850, it also destroyed homes and devastated two small villages.

The nuclear plant is around 1200 kilometers south of Iran’s capital, Tehran, and is built near Bushehr port that overlooks the Arabian Gulf.

Experts who spoke to Al Arabiya said that what makes the situation worse is the movement of the Gulf waters. The waters’ current travels from the Iranian coast towards Gulf shores, meaning the water could carry nuclear waste resulting in possible environmental and oceanic disasters.

These supposed threats have led ministers in the surrounding Gulf states to establish an environmental monitoring center, based in the UAE. The center measures the degree of nuclear radiation in the Gulf region in order to avoid any possible disaster the Iranian nuclear plant may caus.

Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, urged Iran to join the U. N.'s Convention on Nuclear Safety, which allows greater review by the U.N.'s atomic watchdog agency, reported AP.

The plant is 277 kilometers away from Kuwait, 300 kilometers away from Bahrain, 350 kilometers away from Iraq's southern city of Basra, about 410 kilometers away from the Qatari capital Doha, 600 kilometers away from the UAE's Abu Dhabi and about 620 kilometers away from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The plant poses a threat to these countries because it falls within a seismically active area; the aforementioned countries could be under the risk of being subjected to uranium and nuclear radiations leaks.

Tehran has repeatedly dismissed safety concerns over the Bushehr plant, which began operations in September 2011 after decades of delays.

Israel, Gulf Arab states and many Western countries fear Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability, while the Islamic Republic is battling with international sanctions aimed at curbing specific areas within its atomic program.

Iran denies it wants nuclear arms and says its atomic work is for electricity generation and other civil uses.

The head of the Gulf states' main political bloc is urging Iran to join an international accord on nuclear safety following an earthquake near the country's lone energy-producing reactor.

Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, opened a meeting Sunday in Riyadh to discuss nuclear safety issues after last week's 6.1 magnitude quake about 96 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Bushehr, the site of Iran's reactor.

The quake killed at least 37 people. Iran says there was no damage to the reactor and insists it was built to withstand far stronger quakes.

Al-Zayani urged Iran to join the U. N.'s Convention on Nuclear Safety, which allows greater review by the U.N.'s atomic watchdog agency. But Iran is part of other U.N. pacts to report any nuclear accidents.
 

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Last Update: Sunday, 14 April 2013 KSA 19:20 - GMT 16:20
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