The ties between the United States and its close ally Bahrain were further strengthened on Monday when the countries signed a deal on civilian nuclear cooperation. Bahrain also signed the US and Russian-backed Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism meant to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons. In a statement released by the State Department, the agreement was praised as part of the US desire to cooperate with states in the Middle East that are interested in nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Bahrain has decided to forgo the sensitive nuclear enrichment process needed to create nuclear fuel and instead import its fuel. The end result of the enrichment process has dual usage - it can either fuel a power plant or be used to construct nuclear weapons. The standoff between the US and Iran over its nuclear program is centered on the question of what Iran intends to use its enriched fuel for: Washington argues it is for nuclear weapons, while Tehran says it is to fuel power plants. Bahrain is not the first country in the Middle East to sign an agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation. The United Arab Emirates has decided to set up a nuclear agency to assess and develop its nuclear energy program for which it signed an agreement with France in January. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is expected to sign a similar agreement with Russia as he heads there for an official visit. Other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region seeking nuclear programs include Jordan, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria and, possibly, Syria.