Muscat: A high-ranking Omani diplomat has dismissed concerns that the Sultanate’s geographical proximity to Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant could bode ill for the country in the event of a potentially devastating earthquake or mishap.

Sayed Badr Bin Hamad Al Busaidy, Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry, was quoted by the Arabic daily, Al Shabiba, as noting: “There will be no impact from Iran’s nuclear reactor on the Sultanate, as suggested by reports.”

Sayed Badr was responding to the ongoing debate in blogosphere, as well as in local media, about the potential safety risks to the Sultanate should the reactor suffer damage in a severe seismic event or other such mishap. The concerns were sparked by the recent earthquakes in Iran, and the succession of tremblers that jolted parts the West Asian region, including Oman.

“Iran is responsible for the decisions it makes, and the Sultanate respects the decisions of all countries. At the same time, since it affects the neighbourhood in which we live, for the sake of safety, the neighbouring countries should cooperate and consult with each other during emergencies. Neighbours should cooperate with each other to limit any potential impact from any accidents,” the paper quoted the top diplomat as stating in its report published on Wednesday.

The Sultanate, he said, has no plans for a nuclear programme of its own for the generation of electricity. However, the basic structure of programmes was in place aimed at utilising nuclear science for medicine, safeguarding biodiversity, combating agricultural diseases, and irradiation, he said.

“This requires solid human and structural capabilities to ensure the safe utilisation of such applications in accordance with the applicable international criteria,” Sayed Badr added.

Asked about Oman’s stance with regard to the Arab League’s decision to give Syria’s seat to the opposition, the diplomat said: “The Sultanate respects the decisions of the Arab League; however, we have our own opinion.”

He described the Syrian conflict as an internal affair. “We do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and do not want any other country to interfere in our internal affairs — something that has been reaffirmed by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in His Majesty’s speech at the Council of Oman.”

A solution, the diplomat stressed, ultimately depends on the resolve of the Syrian people to negotiate their way out of the crisis. “There has been no unanimous agreement, even amongst the Security Council, on how to resolve the Syrian cause, other than to stop the bloodshed in Syria and call for dialogue and agreement among the Syrian sects. Even amongst the Syrian opposition, there are differences. The willpower of the Syrians themselves is necessary to lead them into negotiations to find a common ground. However, it is an internal affair, and we believe the Syrians are wise enough to take such a step on their own.”