How Iran nuclear deal could turn ‘new page’ for Gulf?

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday welcomed the historic nuclear deal agreed by world powers and Iran, with an official saying it could turn a “new page” for the Gulf region.

“Iran could play a (significant) role in the region if it revises its policy and stops interfering in the internal affairs of countries like Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen,” a UAE official said in the first reaction from the Gulf Arab states to the Vienna accord.

“The new direction we hope to see accompany the historic nuclear deal would demonstrate a genuine desire for Iran to help extinguish fires devouring the region,” the official said.

“This would move the region away from the discord of sectarianism, extremism and terrorism.”

Reached on day 18 of marathon talks in Austria’s capital, the accord is aimed at resolving a 13-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions after repeated diplomatic failures and threats of military action.

The UAE and the Islamic republic are in dispute over three small Gulf islands occupied by Iran, but the emirates still have good business relations with their neighbour.

Like its Gulf Cooperation Council partners, the UAE has repeatedly expressed concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Abu Dhabi also fears that the Vienna agreement will strengthen Iranian influence in the region.

A change of path by Tehran would send a “positive signal that would help the region avoid nuclear proliferation and all the risks this would involve for its security and stability,” the Emirati official said.

“Without such a change, we cannot build anything positive, and this will have consequences on the region and its people.”

The official WAM news agency said UAE leaders have congratulated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, saying they hope the Vienna accord will “strengthen security and stability in the region”.