Iran may cut ties with UAE over disputed islands

Associated Press Modified: October 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm •  Published: October 9, 2012

Iran is a top trading partner of Dubai, with the Islamic Republic importing annually $10 billion worth of goods on average in recent years. Visiting Dubai, deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Hasan Qashqavi added reassurance, saying, "Iran's relations with the Emirates are expanding," adding "warm greetings" to the Emirates, the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported.

Mehmanparast also said Iran will have an "immediate reaction against any country that violates Iran's territory" and stressed how the Emirati claims about the islands have been "very provocative for Iranians."

The remarks are part of Iran's harsher stance after the UAE's statement at the General Assembly in September.

In April, a visit by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the islands inflamed the dispute over the territories and prompted an outcry by UAE and its Arab allies. Tehran later vowed to develop the islands through tourism and other industries, though nothing has been reported on that since the visit.

Tehran says the islands have been part of states that existed on the Iranian mainland from antiquity until the British occupied them in early 20th century.

Tehran also maintains that an agreement signed eight years before its 1979 Islamic Revolution between Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the ruler of one of the UAE's seven emirates, Sharjah, gives it the right to administer Abu Musa and station troops there.

There was no agreement on the other two islands. The UAE insists they belonged to the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah until Iran captured them by force days before the UAE statehood in 1971.