Are the Gulf countries paying heed, or are they swallowing America's poisoned bait?

Iran has a right to pursue peaceful nuclear reactor activities for civilian and industrial purposes and to obtain technological progress, for the good of its poor and in pursuit of a higher quality of life for all of its people.

When its secretary of state [Condoleezza Rice] visited our nations along the Arab Gulf, America talked-up its conflict with Iran to new heights, with the following objectives:

1 - To incite the Gulf States against Iran and frighten them with the specter of an Iranian bomb.

2 - To demand that they pressure Iran to cease its nuclear activities.

3 - To get the wealthy Gulf countries to feel that war between themselves and Iran is coming, and that they must prepare to defend themselves by purchasing expensive American weapons, which will be stored in depots, and which in any case will not be used in the event of war, since high-tech U.S. weaponry is never handed over to any nation other than Israel and allied European states.

According to Al-Jazeera, the official spokesman of the U.S. Defense Department reported that the Gulf countries took these warnings to heart and rushed to purchase many weapons at the inflated prices offered by the Pentagon. In fact, the war may never happen, because after its experience in the quagmire of Iraq, the risk is too great. In the end, America will negotiate peacefully with Iran, but only after the wealthy and loyal Gulf nations have swallowed America's poisoned bait, and Washington recovers through weapons sales every dollar spent in recent years on higher oil prices.

This American game has caused a suspension of development projects already begun in the Gulf: Kuwait froze the "al Subiyah" industrial project in the outskirts of that city, and it is expected that Saudi Arabia will postpone work on an industrial city of King Abdullah, being built near Jedda. This only halts progress and will extends the deprivation of the lower classes, who lack proper housing and adequate unemployment.

All this is occurring despite incontrovertible evidence that Iran, during recent tours of the Arabian Peninsula by its senior officials, such as Kuwait, Qatar, Riyadh, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, offered every possible security guarantee to these intimidated nations, to further reassure them and to propose the following:

1 - Permission from for Tehran for each Gulf state to build private reactors on Iranian territory, in order to benefit them scientifically, technologically, and for the sake of future generations of people in the Gulf. This initiative is meant to reassure them of Iran's peaceful intentions.

2 - Iran's willingness to move its reactor at Bushehr, whose foundation was laid in the last days of the Shah, to another location further from the Arab Peninsula.

I offer these warnings and remarks so that we don't fall into the American trap, which will pilfer our money, delay our development, leave us in a state of utter poverty, and God forbid, set us back in regard to the rest of the world for years to come.

It is known that all of these nations, especially Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, need not buy American weapons, because they have long-standing defense agreements with the United States and even France and Britain. These countries, particularly America, have military bases equipped with all means of defense and attack, strategically located on the territory of these Gulf nations.

*Yousef Al-Rifai is a former Kuwaiti minister.