WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid fears of an atomic arms race in the Middle East, a senior United Arab Emirates official has told a top U.S. lawmaker that it too might seek the right to enrich uranium that Iran has asserted under the recently signed nuclear deal.
The landmark Iran accord to curb its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic sanctions relief allows Tehran to enrich uranium. In barely noticed testimony last month, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the UAE’s ambassador in Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, had informed him in a telephone call that the country no longer felt bound by its previous nuclear agreement with the United States.
“He told me, ‘Your worst enemy has achieved this right to enrich. It’s a right to enrich now that your friends are going to want, too, and we won’t be the only country,’” Royce said in a phone interview with The Associated Press this week, elaborating on his testimony.
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The United States will give Iran access to another $2.8 billion over the next several months and appears to have conceded to Iran’s demand that it be permitted to domestically enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, according to senior Obama administration officials.
In exchange for agreeing over the weekend to extend nuclear talks until late November, Iran will be given another $2.8 billion in unfrozen assets, the White House told reporters over the weekend, after President Barack Obama decided to extend the talks past their July 20 deadline.
The United States already returned to Iran $4.2 billion in unfrozen oil assets during the past six months of the interim nuclear deal and has now agreed to provide another $2.8 billion in exchange for an extension in the negotiations.
White House officials also appeared to admit that U.S. negotiators have told Tehran that they will allow it to preserve some of its domestic enrichment capabilities, something that Congress has opposed.