French UAE military base to open in May

10:30, 24 February 2009
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The military base is...

France`s military base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to become operational by May this year, the French Defense Minister says, according to PRESS TV.

The military base is to help protect the UAE and other allies in the strategically important Persian Gulf region from non-Arab power`s rising influence, Herve Morin told reporters on the sideline of a defense industry exhibition in the UAE capital on Sunday.

According to the minister up to 500 personnel from the army, navy and air force will be stationed at the permanent base in Abu Dhabi, which lies across the narrow Persian Gulf waterway, a key oil shipping route, from Iran.

Earlier, the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa said at the opening of the exhibition that his country was determined to modernize its armed forces by purchasing an "advanced" deterrent system to protect its people.

He added that the UAE`s military plans were "in response to regional threats, with particular emphasis on anti-missile defense technologies." He, however, did not elaborate on the "regional threats."

The deal will make France the second Western country, besides the United States, to have a military base in the Persian Gulf region.

Iran has lashed out at France`s military plans -- announced by Nicolas Sarkozy on January -- saying it would only cause instability to the region.

In response Morin once again accused Iran of not being "transparent" in its nuclear drive which he described as a serious threat to world security.

"France insists that Iran plays the transparency card, cooperates internationally to make its nuclear energy program clear," Morin said.

The West believes that Tehran is trying to acquire atomic weapons, but Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has repeatedly said its nuclear program is designed purely for the civilian applications of the technology such as generating electricity.

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