RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Oil-rich Arab states in the Gulf announced at the end of a summit Sunday that they were considering a shared nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
"The [leaders] commissioned a study by members of the Gulf Cooperation Council to set up a common program in the area of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, according to international standards and systems," said the final statement of the two-day GCC summit held in the Saudi capital.
The statement read by Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah, the secretary general of the political and economic alliance, did not elaborate on the plan by the GCC, which is comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Gulf countries have expressed worry over neighboring Iran's disputed nuclear program that has lead to a standoff with the West over Tehran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
The U.S. and some allies allege Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons and are pressing for sanctions against the Shiite Muslim country.
But Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes, and its hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly vowed to press on with enrichment.
The Persian nation's first reactor in Bushehr — just across the Gulf waters from Kuwait and the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia — is projected to go on line in late 2007.
Officials in the Sunni-led Gulf nations have previously focused on safety issues involving the program, but they also are concerned about a possible military clash between the United States and its ally Israel and Tehran. The Gulf Countries with U.S. military bases — Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar — fear Iran could retaliate against them.
On Sunday, the Gulf leaders reiterated their position that the standoff with Iran should be "resolved peacefully."