S E C R E T ABU DHABI 000097
FOR NEA/ARP AND NEA/IR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/22
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ETTC, UNSC, IR, AE
SUBJECT: CODEL LOWEY WITH UAE FOREIGN MINISTER ON IRAN
CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Olson, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
(S/NF) Summary. In a February 17 meeting, UAE Foreign Minister
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (AbZ) discussed Iran with a
four-member Congressional delegation led by Chairwoman Nita Lowey
of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
AbZ told the Codel the nuclear issue is only one aspect of the Iran
problem, and that Iran's regional meddling was a serious concern.
He pledged the UAE's backing as the US rallies support for new
sanctions but questioned whether they would achieve the desired
effect. AbZ noted the UAE's growing concern that Gulf allies were
being shut out of Iran sanctions planning. End Summary.
IRAN'S REACTORS AND REACH
(S/NF) AbZ began by expressing pride in the US-UAE 123 agreement
and the bilateral relationship generally. According to AbZ, the
123 is a powerful example for the region and provides a transparent
alternative to Iran's nuclear model. The UAE views Iran as a huge
problem that goes far beyond nuclear capabilities. Iranian support
for terrorism is broader than just Hamas and Hizballah. Iran has
influence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Eastern
Province of KSA, and Africa (AbZ mentioned Nigeria specifically).
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez have close, cooperative ties. If Iran acquires nuclear
weapons, the expeditionary aspect of its foreign policy will become
ever more challenging for neighboring states.
POSSIBILITY AND FUTILITY OF SANCTIONS
(S/NF) Lowey asked what AbZ thought about tougher sanctions
against Iran and how the UAE can help with China. AbZ said the US
and its allies "have to decide how to stop Iran" and that the UAE
was surprised at the Chinese attitude. AbZ noted the Emiratis and
the Saudis have spoken to the Chinese, and the UAE expressed a
willingness to expand its energy ties (Note: AbZ seemed to be
indicating that this was intended as a carrot, but he acknowledged
the difficulty of supplanting an Iran-China trade relationship that
reached $50 billion last year. End Note.)
(S/NF) AbZ urged quick action on tough new sanctions. The UAE
is conscientious in its efforts to enforce existing UNSC sanctions
but the Iranians have been able to find other routes, bypassing UAE
ports, to import what they need. AbZ predicted that smart and
swift implementation of new sanctions could still be ineffective
but said that we must try.
GULF NEIGHBORS FEELING LEFT OUT
(S/NF) AbZ highlighted a growing belief the UAE and the GCC are
being left out of our Iran sanctions consultations. AbZ told
Chairwoman Lowey that the P5+1 negotiations with Iran should be
expanded to included the GCC. AbZ said there is a "trust barrier"
to full GCC support for US policy, as there is a deep suspicion
that the US is proceeding without consulting Gulf allies.
(S/NF) AbZ raised (as he likes to do regularly) the 2005 EU
package offer to Iran that was briefed to the UAE by the Iranians,
not the US or another ally. Things have improved since then, but
"we still need some serious trust building between the US, the EU,
and the GCC" on this issue. The DCM reminded AbZ (and the Codel)
that there are extensive and privileged communications between the
UAE and the USG on policy towards Iran and on sanctions planning.
AbZ acknowledged there was trust from the UAE, but the rest of the
GCC had continuing concerns. "Your problem today is to fix your
relations with the GCC, quickly. A few countries in the region are
already dealing with Iran as if they had the bomb."
(S/NF) AbZ said GCC states are left wondering what will happen
to them in any deal the US and Iran reach through back channel
conversations. He compared the current multilateral conversations
over Iran's nuclear program with negotiations over North Korea's
nuclear program, asking why North Korea's neighbors are part of the
Six Party negotiations, but the GCC is not equally involved in
similar conversations about and with Iran.
"WHAT IF?" SCENARIOS
(S/NF) In response to questions from members of Congress, AbZ
said that if Iran goes nuclear others in the region will move
forward on the same track and the nuclear nonproliferation treaty
will completely break down. He said a crisis or confrontation in
the region would create oil supply problems worldwide. 14 million
barrels a day pass through the Strait of Hormuz. That said, he
noted that the US and UAE militaries have plans to keep Hormuz
(S) AbZ concluded the meeting with a soliloquy on the importance
of a successful peace process between Israel and its neighbors as
perhaps the most effective way of reducing Iran's regional
(SBU) Members of Congress in attendance: Congresswoman Nita
Lowey, Congressman Tom Cole, Congresswoman Barbara Lee,
Congresswoman Donna Edwards.