Iran earthquake raises concerns amongst neighbour

Dubai: The earthquake at Bushehr measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale is likely to raise concerns among Iran’s southern neighbours as the city lies in closer proximity to five Gulf capitals than it does to Tehran.

Gulf states see a humanitarian and environmental disaster should an accident occur at Bushehr.

Lying just 280 kilometres from Kuwait city, the nuclear plant at Bushehr has been primarily a concern for the Kuwait government, but has also been repeatedly evoked by other Gulf leader in public forums and summits. Kuwait and the Gulf states have publicly supported Iran’s efforts to secure nuclear power for peaceful purposes but have stressed that its nuclear plants should come under international supervision to ensure that they comply with global safety standards.

Bushehr is 305 kilometres from Manama, 410 kilometres from Doha, 600 kilometres from Abu Dhabi, 620 kilometres from Riyadh, and 750 kilometres from Tehran.

The 1,000-megawatt, Russian-built plant had to be shut down in October 2012 to limit damage after stray bolts were found beneath the fuel cells, a Russian nuclear industry source had revealed at the time. Kuwait’s emir, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah raised the alarm then, suggesting that it “confirms what we mentioned about the importance of Iranian co-operation with the IAEA, and committing to its criteria and rule, to ensure the safety of the region’s states and its people from any effect of radioactivity”.

In December last year, UAE foreign minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan told Al Arabiya that the GCC was concerned about Iran’s nuclear activity, and the Bushehr reactor in particular. He added that the lack of transparency by Iran on its programme has raised suspicions over whether the nuclear activity is intended for peaceful purposes.

By Gulf News


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