In 2008 and 2009, for example, the Bush administration negotiated and signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” to help the sheikdoms of the United Arab Emirates develop nuclear energy capabilities. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice finalized the atomic cooperation deal in January of 2009.
The controversial agreement allowed the sale of U.S. nuclear technology and hardware, which can be useful in atomic weapons programs, to the UAE. And the governments of the Emirates as well as the national government have a history of allowing sensitive technologies and materials to flow into the hands of the Iranian regime and other unsavory rulers, according to analysts, who cite lax export-control laws. Several Emirates-based entities have also been implicated in supplying military equipment to Iran.
The Bush administration insisted the security risk of nuclear cooperation with the Emirates was low. Despite concerns in Congress, however, President Obama has largely maintained the same stance.
“The Obama Administration has not submitted the proposed agreement to Congress for the required review period,” explained a report by the Congressional Research Service in March of 2009, noting that under the U.S. Atomic Energy Act lawmakers are supposed to have 90 days to block any nuclear deals forged by the executive branch.
Critics in Congress on both sides of the aisle were upset about the agreement, claiming Emirates ports were known to have been used in nuclear smuggling operations and more.
"The United Arab Emirates including Dubai have had a rather poor record of controlling the export — both of technology that can be used in these [Improvised Explosive Devices] that are killing our service people in Iraq and, even more important, controlling items that can be used in the centrifuges turning in Iran,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif., pictured above) during a January 2009 interview with CNN’s now-ended Lou Dobbs program. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) were also sharply critical of the plan.
And more than a few prominent analysts suggested that passing atomic technology to the sheikdoms could easily help Iran in its alleged quest to develop the bomb. The UAE, its high-powered lobbyists, and the Bush administration, however, denied the accusations.
Still, rulers in the UAE have long maintained relatively friendly trading relations with the regime in Tehran, which some analysts and officials in Washington, D.C., accuse of seeking to build nuclear missiles. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Iran’s close trading partner Dubai even went on CNN this month to encourage the world to listen to Iranian officials.
"I don't believe that Iran will be under the nuclear weapon ... I don't think so myself," Al Maktoum was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “What can Iran do with a nuclear weapon? For example, will they hit Israel? How many Palestinians will die? And you think ... if Iran hit Israel, their cities will be safe? They will be gone (the) next day."
Of course, beyond the oil-rich UAE, the U.S. government has offered questionable nuclear assistance to more than a few other Islamic or anti-Western governments. Among them are rulers in Morocco, self-declared nuclear-power India, Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, the communist dictatorship ruling mainland China, and more. And the U.S. government has a long and sordid history of supporting brutal dictators and terrorist groups, including the Taliban in Afghanistan as late as May of 2001.
“One could suggest that arming your enemy and then getting upset because your enemy has arms is a laughable foreign policy,” noted a blogger for the Daily Paul, a website supporting Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) and his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. “Just some food for thought and ammo for debating the ‘I like Ron Paul, except for his foreign policy’ crowd.”
In an article about the Bush nuclear deals with the UAE, the Daily Paul commentator also pointed out that it made little sense to trust Emirati officials to use the nuclear technology responsibly while ignoring them when they claim the regime in Iran is not building atomic weapons. “I think both are wrong — the UAE will use the technology irresponsibly and Iran is developing nuclear weapons … as a deterrent of course,” he wrote.