Arab countries say Iran nuclear deal ‘would be disastrous’

The Arab League’s foreign ministers have expressed concerns that the Iranian nuclear deal could lead to an arms race in the region and the end of international cooperation.

The Middle East Economic Cooperation (MEEC) Group announced Thursday that Iran has been awarded a major development loan, the first such accord in the Arab world, but the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain were quick to question the wisdom of the move.

“Iran’s move will have negative implications for regional peace and security,” said Sheikh Abdullah al-Thani, secretary-general of the MEEC Group, adding that Tehran was using the deal to expand its presence in the Middle East and “threaten the Arab and Islamic world’s peace.”

“It is a matter of grave concern that Iran’s military expansion and aggression in the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula will not end as soon as it hoped,” he said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said in a statement that Tehran should “stop interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries and stop its attempts to destabilize the region.”

“Iran is not interested in regional peace but in expanding its presence and destabilizing the Arab region, which will be in direct conflict with the interests of its neighbours,” he added.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Iran was using “irresponsible and illegal measures” to block the agreement.

“It has not been agreed to by the international community, but it is in the hands of the [Iranian] regime,” he told reporters in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“There is no reason to believe that this [deal] will change the situation in the Gulf,” he continued, saying that the region is a “stable and stable place.”

The Arab League, a regional organization that serves as the bedrock of global cooperation, has been concerned that Iran will expand its influence in the Mideast by building military bases in Iraq and Syria and by sponsoring terrorist groups in the heart of Arab capitals.

Iran, meanwhile, has rejected any notion that it has any interest in expanding the influence of the Islamic Republic in the Muslim world.

The deal includes measures to restrict Iranian nuclear activity, restrict Iranian oil imports and require the United Nations Security Council to approve all nuclear sanctions against Tehran.

It is the latest effort by Tehran to assert its dominance in the Persian Gulf, where the United States and its allies have waged wars over the last decade and where Iran is a key regional partner.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday that the U.S.-Iranian deal is “unfair, it’s a mistake and it will be a failure,” while Saudi Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulaziz al-Saud said Tehran “must stop its aggression and extremism.”

The accord is expected to be finalized in coming days and could be approved by the United Nation Security Council by early next week.