Brussels: Nato’s leaders have expressed concern over Iran’s destabilising activities in the wider Middle East region and over its intensified missile tests and the range and precision of its ballistic missiles.
“We call upon Iran to refrain from all activities which are inconsistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 — including all annexes,” the leaders of the 29-member alliance said in a communiqué at the end of the first day of their summit in Brussels.
“We are committed to permanently ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme remains peaceful, in line with its international obligations and commitments to never seek, develop, or acquire a nuclear weapon.”
The heads of state and government taking part in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council insisted on the importance for Iran to continue to fully cooperate in a timely manner with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog that promotes the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technology.
“We condemn all financial support of terrorism, including Iran’s support to a variety of armed non-state actors. We also call upon Iran to play a constructive role by contributing to efforts to counter terrorism and achieve political solutions, reconciliation and peace in the region.”
The Brussels Summit Declaration also endorsed a ‘Package on the South’ that includes a range of political and practical cooperation initiatives.
The South is new buzzword used by Nato to refer to the region extending roughly from Mauritania to the Arabian Gulf.
The initiatives seek a “more strategic, focused, and coherent approach to the Middle East and North Africa, a region facing a multitude of complex threats and challenges” that Nato says affect its security.
“Within that overall strategic aim, we are pursuing three main objectives: to strengthen Nato’s deterrence and defence against threats emanating from the south, to contribute to international crisis management efforts in the region, and to help our regional partners build resilience against security threats, including in the fight against terrorism,” the declaration stated.
“We are committed to building a stronger and more dynamic relationship with our Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners, including helping them modernise their defence and security institutions. Today, we declared Full Capability of our Regional Hub for the South in Naples.”
Nato said that the hub would “contribute to its situational awareness and understanding of regional challenges, threats, and opportunities; support the collection, management, and sharing of information; coordinate Nato’s activities in the south; and reach out to partners”.
The bloc added: “Enhanced planning and exercises will help improve our ability to anticipate and respond to crises in the region.”
Nato’s Mediterranean Dialogue, initiated in 1994 by the North Atlantic Council, currently involves seven non-Nato countries of the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Seen as an integral part of Nato’s adaptation to the post-Cold War security environment, it is also an important component of the alliance’s policy of outreach and cooperation.
The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) was launched during Nato’s 2004 summit in the Turkish city. It currently includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In January 2017, Nato opened a regional centre in Kuwait.
“The Nato-ICI Regional Centre in Kuwait allows us to work more closely with partners in the Gulf region to enhance regional security and counter shared threats,” the Brussels Declaration said.
Nato leaders said they were also working to further develop their relations with the League of Arab States and the Gulf Cooperation Council and that they looked forward to strengthening cooperation with the African Union “so we are better able to respond to common threats and challenges”.