US, E3 and GCC on Iran, Regional Tensions

On November 17, the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemned Iran for supporting militias and proliferating weapons across the region. Ballistic missiles and drones “have been used by Iran or its proxies in hundreds of attacks against civilians and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and civilian merchant seamen in international waters of the Sea of Oman, and endangered American troops combatting ISIS,” the United States and the GCC said in a statement following a working group meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Robert Malley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, participated in the session. The GCC, formed in 1981, includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.  

Malley
Robert Malley (left) with a GCC representative in Riyadh

The United States and the GCC also expressed “grave concern” over Iran’s nuclear program, especially “steps for which it has no civilian need but that would be important to a nuclear weapons program.” They urged Tehran to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

They also welcomed the seventh round of talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers on restoring compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, scheduled for November 29. The United States and the GCC urged Iran’s new government, under President Ebrahim Raisi, to seize the “opportunity to prevent conflict and crisis and create the basis for enhanced regional security and prosperity.”

On November 18, Malley and political directors from Britain, Germany and France convened with representatives from the GCC, Egypt and Jordan in Riyadh. The U.S. and European diplomats said that they were determined to address Iran’s use and transfer of ballistic missiles and drones to proxy militias. The officials discussed two paths open to Iran. The first is to continue expanding its nuclear program and increasing tensions. The second is to, along with the United States, return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and bolster economic and diplomatic ties with its neighbors. The following is the full text of the U.S.-GCC joint statement and the joint U.S.-European statement.

 

U.S. GCC Iran Working Group Statement

Senior officials of the United States (U.S.) and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), convened their Working Group on Iran at the GCC’s headquarters in Riyadh on November 17, as decided by the U.S.-GCC Foreign Ministerial on September 23. The Working Group affirmed the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and the members of the GCC and our shared determination to contribute to regional security and stability, under the framework of the GCC-US Strategic Partnership.

The U.S. and GCC member states condemned a range of aggressive and dangerous Iranian policies, including the proliferation and direct use of advanced ballistic missiles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). These weapons have been used by Iran or its proxies in hundreds of attacks against civilians and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and civilian merchant seamen in international waters of the Sea of Oman, and endangered American troops combatting ISIS. The U.S. and GCC member states agreed that Iran’s nuclear program is of grave concern, as Iran has taken steps for which it has no civilian need but that would be important to a nuclear weapons program, and also called for Iran to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The U.S. and GCC member states discussed a wide range of regional issues, including the situation in Iraq and Yemen, and agreed that Iran’s support to armed militias across the region and its ballistic missile program pose a clear threat to regional security and stability. They further agreed to hold subsequent meetings of this working group to discuss these and other issues within its terms of reference adopted in its inaugural meeting on 3 November 2015.

The U.S. and GCC member states affirmed that Iran has a better alternative to these continued escalations and can contribute to a more secure and stable region. Members of the GCC briefed on their efforts to build effective diplomatic channels with Iran to prevent, resolve or de-escalate conflicts, backed by strong deterrence and defense cooperation with the United States. They described a vision for these regional diplomatic efforts developing over time to promote peaceful ties in the region, based on a long history of economic and cultural exchanges. The U.S. and the members of the GCC affirmed that deeper economic ties after the lifting of U.S. sanctions under the JCPOA are in the mutual interest of the region.

The U.S. and GCC member states stressed that these diplomatic efforts will not succeed if Iran continues to provoke a nuclear crisis. The U.S. and GCC member states welcomed the upcoming seventh round of JCPOA negotiations in Vienna and called for an urgent mutual return to full compliance with the JCPOA, that would help pave the way for inclusive diplomatic efforts to address all issues that are necessary to ensure sustainable safety, security, and prosperity in the region.

All participants urged the new Iranian Administration to seize the current diplomatic opportunity to prevent conflict and crisis and create the basis for enhanced regional security and prosperity.
  
 

U.S. and E3 statement

Today, Political Directors (PDs) of the E3 (France, Germany, UK) and the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran held consultations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, its Member States, Egypt and Jordan in Riyadh.

They exchanged views on the political and security situation in the region, including Iran’s actions. They also addressed the upcoming seventh round of talks on the return of Iran and the United States to mutual, full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Representatives of the E3 & United States reiterated the importance – for Europe, the US, the region and beyond – of quickly reaching and implementing a negotiated solution to that end.

PDs of the E3 and US Special Envoy for Iran welcomed our regional partners’ efforts to deescalate tensions and promote dialogue in the region.

They affirmed their determination to continue to address broader security concerns of the region. They discussed Iranian destabilising activities in the region, including the use and transfer of ballistic missiles and UAVs that have led to attacks against regional partners. They reiterated their concern for and condemnation of such destabilising activities.

They underlined that enhanced regional dialogue and a return to mutual compliance with the JCPoA would benefit the entire Middle East, allow for more regional partnerships and economic exchange, with long-lasting implications for growth and the well-being of all people there, including in Iran.
 

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