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Iran rejects GCC’s ‘unconstructive, fruitless’ claims on trio Persian Gulf islands

The photo shows a shoreline of Iran's Abu Musa island in the Persian Gulf. (Photo by ISNA)

Iran says it regards any claim about its sovereignty over the three islands of Abu Musa, the Greater Tunb and the Lesser Tunb in the Persian Gulf as "interference" in its internal affairs.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan’ani on Monday dismissed the “unconstructive and fruitless” statement issued by the ministerial council of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in its 160th session in Doha, Qatar.

He said the trio islands in the Persian Gulf are an “inseparable and permanent” part of the Islamic Republic’s territory.

In its statement, the ministerial council claimed that the three islands belong to the United Arab Emirates and accused Tehran of continuing to occupy them.

It called on Iran to respond to the UAE’s efforts to resolve the issue through direct negotiations or resorting to the International Court of Justice.

The three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs have historically been part of Iran, proof of which can be found and corroborated by countless historical, legal, and geographical documents in Iran and other parts of the world.

However, the United Arab Emirates has repeatedly laid claim to the islands.

The islands fell under British control in 1921 but on November 30, 1971, a day after British forces left the region and just two days before the UAE was to become an official federation, Iran’s sovereignty over the islands was restored.

‘Repetitive statements about Arash gas field have no legal value’

The Iranian spokesperson also dismissed the GCC claims asserting shared rights of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the entirety of the Arash natural gas field in the Persian Gulf.

“Issuing repetitive statements and leveling unilateral claims [about the Arash gas field] lack legal value and do not prove any right in favor of the Kuwaiti side,” Kan’ani said.

He emphasized that the only logical and fruitful solution is to return to the technical and legal negotiating table and bilateral talks in order to reach a lasting agreement based on good neighborliness and respect for common interests.

He reaffirmed Iran’s right to the resources of the gas field as per the negotiations held between the two countries and advised the Kuwaiti officials against resorting to fruitless political and media approaches.

Based on its strategic approach and principled policies, Iran always believes in interaction and cooperation with its neighbors to solve the problems in the region and welcomes constructive initiatives to promote bilateral and multilateral relations, the spokesman stated.

The ministerial council claimed that the entire field is located in the marine areas of Kuwait and that ownership of the natural resources in the divided submerged zone adjacent to the Saudi-Kuwaiti divided zone is jointly owned by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and they alone have full rights to exploit the natural resources in that region.

The dispute over the Arash gas field dates back to the 1960s when Iran and Kuwait were awarded overlapping offshore concessions for the field following its discovery.

The dispute has undergone several rounds of assertions and rebuttals by the involved parties, becoming a friction point among the three neighboring states of the Persian Gulf.

The Arash gas field is estimated to contain reserves of 20 trillion cubic feet of gas, potentially yielding a daily output of one billion cubic feet. Some studies show approximately 40% of the field lies within Iranian maritime boundaries.

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