Iran condemns Arab League statement supporting UAE claims
By Sara Rajabova
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has strongly condemned a recent statement by the Arab League, supporting the United Arab Emirates' claims regarding three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf.
"The islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb are an inseparable part of Iran," Mehmanparast said on Wednesday, Fars news agency reported.
On Tuesday, Arab League Deputy Secretary General Ahmed Ben Helli read a statement, released at the 24th Arab League summit in the Qatari capital Doha, advocating the unfounded claims laid by the UAE about the three Iranian islands.
Relations between Iran and the UAE are deeply historic. UAE maintains close economic ties with Iran. The UAE also has a significant Iranian community; there's also a significant Arab community living in Iran.
However, there are tensions over the three islands in Persian Gulf. Both Iran and the UAE claim territorial sovereignty over Abu Musa and two other islands - Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb in the southern Gulf.
Abu Musa, the only inhabited island of the three, was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.
Abu Dhabi has said Iran has since taken control of the entire island and has built an airport and military base there.
Iranian Foreign Ministry earlier also issued statements over the UAE claims on three islands in the Persian Gulf.
Last year, Iran warned the United Arab Emirates it would consider cutting diplomatic ties if the federation pressed its claim to three disputed tiny Gulf islands which both countries say are theirs.
The islands temporarily fell under British control in the 1800s but were returned to Iran on November 30, 1971 through a legal procedure that preceded the establishment of the UAE as an independent state.
However, the United Arab Emirates has repeatedly laid claim to the islands.
Iran says the islands are a historic part of its territory, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in April visited them to reassert that position. However, the UAE claims ownership in line with an agreement signed with Britain, and has garnered support from other Gulf Arab states and its ally the United States.
But Iran said the UAE stance has no "rational, logical, historical, or legal basis."
Also, it should be noted that the Persian Gulf is home to approximately 60 percent of the world's proven oil and natural gas resources. The United States is the world's largest consumer of oil, importing 16 percent of its supply from the Persian Gulf, of which over 95 percent travels by sea, with an estimated 17 million barrels of oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz every day.