UK raps Iran interference in Bahrain
Manama, July 7, 2011
The UK was "concerned" by Iran's attempts to interfere in Bahrain once the protest movement began earlier this year, said the British Ambassador to Bahrain.
Jamie Bowden confirmed there was evidence of Iran seeking to exploit the situation once demonstrations were underway, but he did not think Tehran was involved in starting protests.
"In the case of Bahrain, we did not see any suggestion that the Iranians were responsible for triggering what happened here, but what we do have concerns about is having started, we saw in a number of ways evidence the Iranians were seeking to exploit the situation," he told our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News in an exclusive interview.
He pointed to the media campaign by Iranian TV stations such as Al Alam and Press TV as evidence of meddling, but said he was unable to discuss whether British intelligence had information on other forms of interference.
"We never talk about intelligence matters, but there is evidence they (Iran) sought to exploit the situation," he said.
The ambassador also accused Iran of maintaining links with "various extreme organisations across the region", adding: "This does not contribute to regional stability."
However, he said Bahrain and the UK regularly shared information on such matters. "We do have a very close political relationship and a very close military relationship," he said.
"And we do exchange a great deal of information, each with the other."
Meanwhile, Bowden was highly critical of Iranian support for the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad, which has been accused of suppressing its own anti-government protests in action that has reportedly left more than 1,000 dead. "We (the UK and Bahrain) certainly agree on the problems that we face with Iran and its role in the region," he said.
"We agree on the need to tackle Iran's nuclear programme, we agree on the unacceptability of Iran interfering in the affairs of Arab states, we are sickened by the hypocrisy of Iran raising human rights issues in some Arab Spring states whilst at the same time remaining completely silent about what's happening in Syria and even supporting the Syrian government in that."
Although the ambassador said the UK recognised Iran's right to civil nuclear power, he said serious concerns remained over alleged efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
"Our concern is over the aspects of the (nuclear) programme that don't fit into the framework of a civilian programme," he said. "Why are they enriching so much uranium to 20 per cent? As far as the world can see, they have no need for that (for nuclear power purposes).
"Why have they so much lowly-enriched uranium? There are some certain questions that the IAEA has repeatedly set in its reports. It can't say Iran has a military programme, but there are questions still in its mind for the possible diversion of the material for military activity." – TradeArabia News Service