ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, March 11, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with leaders of the United Arab Emirates here today and discussed Afghanistan, Yemen, the elections in Iraq and bilateral military-to-military relations, but the main discussion point was Iran.
Gates, who traveled here after meeting with King Abdallah in Saudi Arabia, fleshed out the U.S. position with Mohammed bin Zayyed al Nuhayyan, deputy commander of the Emirati armed forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
"All the countries of the region are worried about Iran," Gates told reporters traveling with him. He also addressed his meetings in Saudi Arabia.
In both places, Gates said, he discussed the prospect of sanctions against Iran, the prospect of sanctions working, and how the international community can get the Iranian government to change its policies.
"I felt good about both stops," Gates said. The Gulf states are worried about Iranian nuclear ambitions and Iranian missile proliferation. The secretary asked the Saudi king to use his influence with China to get that nation to go along with United Nations sanctions against Iran.
"What I would like for them to do is because of the nature of their economic relationship, it's important to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia that China be supportive of these U.N. resolutions," Gates said.
In both Saudi Arabia and here, the secretary said, the leaders were interested in the U.S. position of aiming sanctions more at the Iranian leadership and directly at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps than at the people, Gates said.
The United States would like to see nations of the Gulf cooperate against Iran, the secretary said.
"We have been developing a stronger security relationship with most of the countries of the Gulf for a number of years, in terms of air and missile defense and maritime surveillance," Gates said. "This is a gradual process of growing ties in the security arena, and particularly in the defensive arena."
From the U.S. standpoint, the reason for the need for these defensive capabilities is the significant expansion of missile capabilities in Iran.
Sanctions can work, Gates said. They worked against Rhodesia and South Africa, he noted, and the one constant is that the international community had united against the regimes.
"I think we have that kind of broad international support," he said. "It really depends on what your purpose is on the sanctions and the breadth of international support. In both those cases, the purpose being trying to persuade the Iranian government what their own best interest is, as opposed to regime change. I think the prospects of success are certainly a lot better than in other situations where sanctions were applied."