The regional security conference sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies got underway today in Bahrain. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki decided at the last minute neither to attend nor to send a delegation to the conference.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the gathering that Iran needs to suspend its uranium enrichment program and vow to not develop nuclear weapons in the future. He also attacked Iran’s foreign policy for its destabilizing effects in the region and called it a threat to the national interests of the United States.
"Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents — Christians, Jews and Muslims alike," said Gates.
On Friday, Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, Commander of US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), had said, "I wake up thinking about Iran, I go to bed thinking about Iran."
Some of the leaders of Persian Gulf states cautioned against isolating Iran in the region.
“I don't think we can try to solve our problems through trying to seal Iran off from the region. They are a very important player," said Sheikh Hamed, Prime Minister of Qatar. He added pushing a military confrontation with Iran is not in the best interests of GCC countries.