Kuwait said on Sunday that threats by Iraqi militants will not deter the oil-rich emirate from completing the construction of a controversial megaport between the two nations.
“We are not scared by threats and we are continuing the construction work in the project. Work is ongoing smoothly and as planned,” foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah told reporters.
The Kuwaiti official was responding to new threats by Iraqi Shiite militant group Ketaeb Hezbollah that it will strike the port if Kuwait did not halt construction.
The group made its first threat last month and Kuwaiti newspapers on Sunday published new threats by the same group.
“This threat is unfortunate and irresponsible,” Jarallah said after a presentation on Mubarak Al-Kabeer port to heads of foreign diplomatic missions in Kuwait.
“There must be an official Iraqi handling of these threats,” the Kuwaiti official said.
Last month, Ketaeb Hezbollah, which has claimed deadly attacks on US troops in Iraq and is believed to be backed by Iran, warned a South Korean consortium to halt work on the Kuwaiti port project.
Iraqis are objecting to the port because they say it will strangle Iraqi shipping lanes.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said that Kuwait has yet to notify Baghdad officially of the Mubarak project. He said Baghdad only learned about it from third parties.
The multi-billion-dollar container port is being constructed on Bubiyan Island, close to the border with Iraq and is due for completion in 2016. Construction began in 2007.
Jarallah and other Kuwaiti officials on Sunday denied that the port will have any “negative impact” on the shipping lines or the environment, saying it will rather better serve the economies of both nations.
Jarallah said an Iraqi technical delegation received details on the project in Kuwait City in May and visited the site of the project. Another delegation is due to arrive in the emirate soon for more questions.
The Gulf is the main export outlet for Iraqi oil, which accounts for the lion’s share of the country’s revenues, and Baghdad has started major work to modernise its outdated ports.