The UAE has condemned as ''provocative" and "dangerous'' Iran’s announcement that it plans to establish a national security and foreign affairs policy for a disputed group of islands in the Persian Gulf.
A committee of the Iranian Shura Council will conduct an inspection tour of the three islands, Abu Musa, Greater Tunbs and Lesser Tunbs, which Iran has occupied since the UK military left the UAE in 1971.
The neighbouring Gulf states each lay claim to the unoccupied islands, which are considered of strategic importance because of their location in the middle of the Gulf shipping lane.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the UAE Federal National Council (FNC) said the Iranian trip violated UAE sovereignty and contradicted efforts to find a peaceful settlement.
''The escalating measures, which Iran used to do, can never alter the historic and legal facts that prove the islands are part and parcel of the UAE territories,'' the statement said.
The FNC said it would refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice if direct negotiation failed to see the islands returned to the UAE.
''While condemning the hostile measures, the FNC affirms they run counter to the GCC peaceful stances and repeated calls and initiatives the UAE has made to put an end to the Iranian occupation of its islands in consistence with principles of the international law, historic and friendly bonds and mutual interests.
“The Iranian actions also contravene an understanding reached by the two countries to avoid escalation so as to clear the air for a solution that enhances security and stability in the region and promotes relations of good neighbourliness between countries.”
The FNC called on Iran to refrain from “unjustifiable provocative measures” and to work towards strengthening confidence between countries in the Gulf region.