Iran attacks US plans for Gulf arms deal
Tehran, July 30, 2007
Iran on Monday accused the US of seeking to create fear and cause divisions in the Middle East after reports that it was preparing a major package of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
A US defence official said in Washington on Saturday the package could be worth some $20 billion over the next 10 years.
The United States is striving to assure Gulf allies, worried by the growing strength of Iran and war in Iraq, that it is committed to the region and will stand by them, with arms sales part of that process, US officials say.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman noted the reports came ahead of a joint trip to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates this week.
'America has always considered one policy in this region and that is creating fear and concerns in the countries of the region and trying to harm the good relations between these countries,' Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a regular press briefing.
He said Washington was 'making an effort to create a chance to sell its arms and impose the export of these arms to countries in the region'.
'What the Persian Gulf region needs is security, stability, peace, prosperity and economic development,' Hosseini said.
Iran and the United States are embroiled in a row over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, which major powers suspect is aimed at making atom bombs. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
Washington also accuses Iran of fomenting instability in Iraq. Tehran blames the US presence in Iraq for violence threatening to tear its neighbour apart.
The senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity as the deal has not yet been officially announced or completed, said the administration hoped to present the package to the US Congress for approval in the fall.
The United States has sought to allay Israeli concerns about the forthcoming package. The senior US defense official said Washington was working on a military assistance deal for Israel expected to top $30 billion during the next decade, a significant increase on current levels. - Reuters