DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – South Korean President Moon Jae-in's visit to the United Arab Emirates this week shows the Asian nation's deepening cooperation with the Gulf country, from buying its oil to building the Arabian Peninsula's first nuclear power plant and potentially backing it in war. The defense pact Seoul reportedly struck with Abu Dhabi, decried as a secret deal by opponents in South Korea, further leverages a military arrangement that already has seen South Korean special forces help train the Emirati military. A former South Korean defense minister has downplayed the chance of entering a conflict alongside the UAE as a "low risk." But Shiite rebels in Yemen, who the UAE is battling as part of a Saudi-led coalition, say they have already tried to target the under-construction Barakah nuclear power plant with a cruise missile. Meanwhile, hundreds of North Korean laborers are believed to still work in the UAE, even as the country says it stopped issuing new visas.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A Yemen rebel drone strike this week on a critical Saudi oil pipeline shows that the otherwise-peaceful sandy reaches of the Arabian Peninsula now are at risk of similar assault, including an under-construction nuclear power plant and Dubai International Airport, among the world's busiest. U.N. investigators said the Houthis' new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition's war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 km (930 miles). That puts the far reaches of both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the two main opponents of the Iranian-allied Houthi rebels in Yemen, within reach of drones difficult to detect and track. Their relatively simple design, coupled with readily available information online, makes targeting even easier, analysts say. "These installations are easily findable, like on Google Earth," said Tim Michetti, an expert on illicit weapons technology with experience in Yemen.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The star of a live television interview in Iran's new nuclear workshop wasn't the head of the country's atomic agency, but three centrifuges labeled in English in the background, advanced devices Tehran is prohibited from using by the nuclear deal with world powers. The placement of the centrifuges, identified as IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-6, may have served as a subtle warning to Europe as it tries to salvage the atomic accord after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from it and restore U.S. sanctions. In recent days Iranian officials from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on down have vowed to boost the country's uranium enrichment capacity. The moves they have outlined would not violate the 2015 nuclear accord, but would allow Iran to quickly ramp up enrichment if the agreement unravels. "I think they've been quite clear in saying that if the U.S. pulls out and the EU doesn't live up to its side of the deal, it will rapidly increase its enrichment capacity," said Ian Stewart, the head of a nuclear proliferation study called Project Alpha at King's College London.
Both the UAE and neighboring Saudi Arabia remain highly suspicious of the nuclear deal, which saw economic sanctions on Iran lifted in exchange for it limiting its enrichment of uranium. The two Gulf Arab countries say that new money flowing into Iran has aided its ability to back Shiite militias in Iraq and support embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad.