Bahraini FM to Israeli TV: Iran Cannot Be Allowed Nuclear Weapons

Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani tells i24 News that any new Iran deal cannot ignore 'the Islamic Republic’s other efforts to destabilize other countries in the region through terrorism and proxy wars'

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Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani at a press conference in Jerusalem, in 2020.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani at a press conference in Jerusalem, in 2020.Credit: MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani told an Israeli news channel on Tuesday that although Bahrain hopes that the international community can reach a comprehensive deal with Iran, Tehran is negotiating in bad faith in order to buy time for the development of nuclear weapons.

Speaking to Israeli cable news network i24, Al Zayani said that he was concerned that any new deal to replace the now defunct Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action “cannot be confined” to the nuclear issue while ignoring the Islamic Republic’s other efforts to destabilize other countries in the region through terrorism and proxy wars.

Iran, Al Zayani asserted, is now very skilled at “a longer game than the international community” and will  “dangle kind of the prospect of some concessions to buy time while continuing to enrich and continue its other malign activities.” He added, “I hope the international community can see through these tactics and be absolutely clear, focus on the realistic assessment of Iran’s actions.”

He continued, “Iran achieving nuclear weapons would definitely be a catastrophic development, not just for the region but also for the wider world, enabling Iran to hold large parts of the world at kind of ransom through its nuclear threat. That is why it is so important that this cannot be allowed to happen.”

However, when asked if Bahrain, alongside Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, constituted an anti-Iranian bloc, Al Zayani responded that his country’s foreign policy “is really not targeted against any country nor do we seek to form a bloc versus another country,” although he did say that regional actors need to “speak with one voice” in order to “highlight Iran’s malign activities.”

He added that “The issue of Iranian proxies and client groups remains a challenge across the region, not just the groups [arrayed against Israel] but also the Houthis in Yemen and the smaller terrorist groups that we have exposed in Bahrain, many of which have clear links to Iran.”

Asked about possible Israeli military intervention, Al Zayani said that while it was not his place to comment on other countries’ foreign policy, he hoped that the Iranian nuclear issue can be dealt with comprehensively and without exposing the embattled region to additional military conflicts. “I think the region has seen enough of wars, destructions and displacements of its peoples. I think we need to truly look at the issue comprehensively and in a wise manner.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel will maintain its freedom of action if a new nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers is reached, two days after the New York Times reported that U.S. officials have warned Israel that attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities are counterproductive and might be encouraging Tehran to speed up its nuclear program.

Although international nuclear talks with Tehran are set to resume later this month, the Israeli government has ordered the defense establishment to prepare for an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites in case negotiations fail and the Islamic Republic continues to advance toward a nuclear bomb. These preparations include acquiring special equipment, developing advanced intelligence capabilities and other improvements. 

In an interview with Bahrain’s Al Ayam daily last month, IDF Maj. Gen. Tal Kalman, the officer tasked with planning Israeli strategy vis-a-vis Iran, stated that Israel had not ruled out the use of military force and called for high-level strategic dialogue and close military cooperation between Jerusalem and Manama in order to confront the Iranian threat.

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