The Cable

Petraeus: The UAE's Air Force could take out Iran's

U.S. Centcom commander Gen. David Petraeus said last week that the United Arab Emirates, a key U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, has the capability to overpower Iran's Air Force.

"The Emirati Air Force itself could take out the entire Iranian Air Force, I believe, given that it's got ... somewhere around 70 Block 60 F-16 fighters, which are better than the U.S. F-16 fighters," Petraeus said during remarks at a recent conference put on in Bahrain by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. 

In a related development, the new nuclear agreement between the U.S. and the UAE entered into force today, with the signing ceremony presided over by Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher and UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba.

"In today's world, we must find ways to meet the demand for clean energy and to recognize the right that all nations have to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear power. But we need to achieve this balance without increasing the risk of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and material," Tauscher said.

She praised the UAE for agreeing to import nuclear fuel, rather than producing it through reprocessing or enrichment. Tauscher also praised the UAE as a partner in the drive to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The agreement, often referred to as the 123 agreement, provides for transfers of nuclear technology and knowhow to the UAE in exchange for its commitment to nonproliferation standards. (Meanwhile there are still concerns that members of the ruling family of Ras Al Khaimah in the UAE are actually facilitating illicit weapons transfers to Iran.)

President Obama sent the agreement to Congress in May. It was negotiated and signed by the previous administration.

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