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US ready to upgrade Gulf allies’ defences: Clinton

The US declared it was ready to help its allies in the Gulf to establish a “defence umbrella” if Iran did not back down from its nuclear programme.

world Updated: Jul 22, 2009 14:56 IST

The US on Wednesday declared it was ready to help its allies in the Gulf to establish a “defence umbrella” if Iran did not back down from its nuclear programme.

The security assurance was handed out by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an interview to Thai television. Though US would “still hold the door open” to engagement with Iran, but would also take “crippling action”---- an apparent reference to sanctions -- if Tehran pursues its atomic drive, she said.

“The nuclear clock is ticking”, Clinton said declaring that Washington was prepared to “upgrade the defence of our partners in the region,” adding that Iran’s neighbours are most concerned about events.

“If the US extends a defence umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it is unlikely Iran will be any stronger or safer,” Clinton said.

“They won’t be able to intimidate and dominate as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon,” she said.

The US Secretary of State made the comments before heading to Asia’s largest security forum in the Thai resort island of Phuket, where talks are expected to focus on possible nuclear links between North Korea and Myanmar.