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GCC 'must acquire nuclear capability'

posted on 22/11/2006: 730 views

The GCC countries will have to acquire nuclear capabilities to live with nuclear capable Iran, according to a prominent political mentor.

"With nuclear capable Iran, the GCC countries will, as a first stag have to enter into firm defence arrangement with the US to provide protection in the case of use or threat to use nuclear weapons. Over time, countries such as Saudi Arabi, Egypt and others will want to have their own nuclear weapons," Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's minister mentor, told Gulf News yesterday.

He said that despite strict scrutiny, these countries can get the knowhow to acquire these weapons, making the entire Middle East and not only Israel and Iran nuclear capable.

According to Lee, the man who turned the island of Singapore from a sleepy backwater into one of the world's wealthiest states, the policy of mutually assured destruction is the only deterrence, bringing more nuclear weapons to the Gulf.

On the political reforms in the UAE, Lee said: "The UAE has to go on the pace and in the manner that suits its culture and history. You have to slowly evolve. If you have a sudden change, you could have disruption."

On how this evolution takes place, Lee said this is really dependent on how quickly you are able to educate the people. "And more important, how large educated middle class you will have. Because for any democratic system to run successfully, you need a large educated middle class people."

Of the UAE development, Lee said the country is pretty well advanced and if it is only seven per cent of its master plan's goals that has been achieved [according to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai] so the UAE is going to be as advanced as any developed country in the world. You have the resources to do it. The missing element is the human capability to match your infrastructure.

Lee does not think a Western style democracy will fit for the Arab countries. "It has to be an Arab style democracy. An Arab democracy depending on each Arab country, because each country has a different history and different social structure and cannot suddenly break away from that system.

On a formula for development in the Arab world, Lee said: "I do not think there is a formula. But the general principles are quite clear. To become a developed, industrial or technologically competent society, you have to have highly educated population. Second, you must have a social system which gives equal opportunities to everybody, so the best rise to the top regardless of whether you are a royal family or not.

For Lee, it was not possible 40 years ago to have foreseen the technological changes that led to the miraculous transformation of Singapore. "I studied small countries such as Hong Kong and Switzerland to know how do we get there. We grasped opportunities so we grew. So it's taking advantages and maximizing opportunities depending on the evolution of the world."

Lee is of the view that China and India are moving steadily towards restoring their position in the early 19th century when they were responsible for 40 per cent of the world GDP.

"Economically, China and India will become superpowers, but in the military field I am not sure. Military capabilities do not depend on just the size of manpower. And I do not believe that in the next 30 or 40 years, China can catch up to the American or even European military technology, as they are concentrating on how to disable leading edge technology rather than acquiring this technology," Lee said.

Lee does not see much of change in the next 10 to 15 year. "But in 50 years, the economic disparity will be very much low while the living standards and the quality of life will improve remarkably.

"In 50 years I see China, Korea and Japan at the high-tech end of the value chain." Gulf News


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