Gulf: GCC monarchies call for IAEA inspectors in Iran

To inspect Bushehr nuke plant after deadly 6.3 degree quake

15 April, 14:03

    (ANSAmed) - DUBAI, APRIL 15 - The Gulf monarchies on Monday called on the UN to send inspectors to the Iranian nuclear power plant at Bushehr, which was hit by a deadly earthquake last week. ''The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must send a team of specialists to inspect the nuclear plant and investigate potential damages'', Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani said uring an emergency meeting Riyadh. The GCC is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    With its epicenter 90 kilometers from the Bushehr reactor, Tuesday's 6.3-degree quake left at least 40 people dead and shook skyscrapers in the cities of Abu Dhabi, Doha, Kuwait City, and Manama, all of which are located across the Gulf, but geographical closer to the Bushehr plant than Tehran is. While Bushehr was designed to withstand shocks of more than eight degrees on the Richter scale, Iran lies on the junction of three major tectonic plates. Exactly ten years ago, an earthquake that struck in the south of the country left more than 25,000 people dead. The Gulf monarchies are also concerned because Iran, which introduced nuclear power to the region, does not disclose details about its safety procedures, according to GCC Deputy Secretary Genral Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg.

    International sanctions against Iran for allegedly producing nuclear weapons also contribute to worries, and the monarchies are not willing to take Iran's word for it that its plant is safe. Gulf states are also investing in nuclear programs, however.

    The UAE's $20-billion Barakah civilian nuclear reactor will be up and running by 2017, with four more slated to become operative by 2020. While the other Gulf monarchies are moving more slowly down the nuclear path, in 2011 they collectively set up a regional coordinating agency to deal with possible emergencies with a united front. (ANSAmed).

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