Bahrain Gov’t: Ben Birnbaum “Inaccurately Reported” Ambassador’s Comments

Ben Birnbaum’s Washington Times article, which attempted to rehash the tired argument that Arab states want the U.S. and/or Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, took another hit today with a statement from Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).

On Friday, I wrote about Birnbaum’s highly selectively excerpted interview with Houda Nonoo, Bahrain’s ambassador to the U.S.. He portrayed her as deeply worried about the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran and, at the very least, ambivalent about a U.S. or Israeli military strike.

Nonoo expressed concern that Bahrain is only 26 miles from Bushehr and “If Iran has [a nuclear] capability, nobody is going to be able to stop them.” But Nonoo fell short of endorsing a military strike and told Birnbaum that “she declined to express a preference.”

Birnbaum attempted to clarify Nonoo’s unclear position by talking to a number of Washington and Israel based Iran-hawks, who apparently told him that Arab countries would welcome a military strike on Iran.

Yesterday, Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs walked back Nonoo’s statement and made the kingdom’s position on military action again Iran’s nuclear program crystal clear.

The statement read:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain welcomes this opportunity to clarify the recent statement by Her Excellency Mrs Houda Nonoo, Ambassador to the United States of America, as set out in the Washington Times. It appears that the Ambassador’s remarks may have been inaccurately reported, or have been misinterpreted or misunderstood, and the Ministry is pleased to further develop and place in context the said statement.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has consistently made clear its support for the right of all states to the peaceful civilian use of nuclear energy, transparently and in accordance with the relevant international framework and safeguards. Bahrain has made clear on a number of occasions that the Islamic Republic of Iran is no exception to this right. At the same time, Bahrain has also called on Iran to demonstrate full transparency and cooperation with the international community, including the IAEA, to address any concerns over its nuclear programme.

The Ambassador’s remarks were not intended to, and did not, deviate or detract from this consistently established position, which remains the position of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Birnbaum acknowledged the MOFA’s clarification in an article today.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.