September 5, 2003
NUCLEAR AMBITIONS 'RING ALARM BELLS'
** Iran "will continue
to isolate itself" if it opposes unrestricted nuclear inspections.
** Media split over best
course to follow with Tehran--taking a hard line or negotiations.
** The "hubris of
power" is blinding Iran's ruling mullahs to the inevitability of change.
No 'plausible explanation' for nuclear program-- Iranian ambitions "to be a nuclear weapons
power" have "alarmed" the West.
Iran's "proximity to terrorists...makes the possible
ownership" of nuclear weapons "unpredictable and dangerous." Stating that Tehran "is racing to
construct a bomb," Israel's conservative Jerusalem Post contended
the "scandal is the number of supposedly responsible nations" that
continue "business as usual" with the "sinister" Iranian
regime. "Encircled by nuclear
powers, it is no surprise that Iran is also striving for nuclear weapons,"
said Germany's right-of-center Die Welt--"as the example of North
Korea shows," possession of nuclear weapons makes a state
"untouchable." Having the
bomb, a rightist French daily added, "is the only way for Iran to dissuade"
the U.S. from "subjecting it to the same fate as Iraq" but it also
prevents Iran "from being part of the international community."
Best strategy: negotiation or confrontation?-- Analysts disagreed on the most effective way to
deal with the "nuclear stand-off" and other concerns about the Tehran
regime. A conservative British paper
declared that the UK's policy of "constructive engagement" had
"run aground on the rock" of the regime's continuing support of
terrorism. Though Iran has "a nasty
habit of throwing a spanner in the works," Britain's center-left Independent
suggested it was "probably still better" to pursue engagement rather
than "outright confrontation, holding out the promise of better
relations" if Iran cooperates over nuclear inspections. Thailand's English-language Bangkok Post
observed that "much of the world" believes it best to engage Iran
"economically while encouraging democratization" since there
"isn't much of an alternative" short of a "very risky"
military takeover. A rightist Pakistani
outlet, though holding the U.S. had "no moral basis" to dictate to
anyone about WMD, still advised Tehran, "Wisdom demands that confrontation
with the U.S. should be avoided."
'There will be change in Iran'--
that "Iran's prisons are full, young students are rebelling, a paralyzing
censorship is hovering" over the arts and media, Germany's left-of-center Berliner
Zeitung commented that President Khatami had indicated the Islamic system
"can only be saved by making concessions." Hopes that Khatami might be "an Iranian
Gorbachev" had proved "illusory," a rightist British paper
asserted. Another European journal
judged that "hardly anybody hopes that the reform majority" in Iran's
parliament will achieve a "breakthough." For the mullahs, "the preservation of power"
and survival "have become the highest priority." An Italian writer was more upbeat, noting
that "Iran is the only Islamic country with a strong middle class"
which is "silently but effectively trying to achieve democratic
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 41 reports from 18 countries, August 3-September 4,
2003. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Dealing With
The conservative Daily Telegraph
editorialized (9/4): "The
Government's policy of 'constructive engagement' with what it perceives as
moderate elements in Iran has again run aground on the rock of
terrorism.... The Labor Government
launched its diplomatic rapprochement with Iran after the election of Mohammed
Khatami, a cautious reformer, as president in 1997. Two years later, ambassadors were exchanged
for the first time since Britain severed relations after Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa
against Salman Rushdie.... Despite this
warming of ties, Britain cannot claim to have bolstered Mr. Khatami's authority
at home. Electoral victories at all
levels have not enabled the president to change Tehran's fundamental hostility
to Western interests in the Middle East; democratic domestic opponents now
accuse him of being in the same boat as the clerical hardliners. The Foreign Office's hope that he could be an
Iranian Gorbachev has proved illusory.
Iran has continued its terrorist operations overseas--for example, the
shipment of arms for the Palestinian Authority seized by the Israelis at the
beginning of last year--and has recently alarmed the West by its attempt to
become a nuclear weapons power. The last
has led to a cooling of relations with London but the Government is anxious to
avoid their formal downgrading. Playing
to the Labor Left's anti-Americanism, keeping in step with other European Union
states, the lure of oil and gas contracts: all could persuade ministers to
appease Teheran.... Given Labor's
tenacious attachment to constructive engagement, it cannot be ruled out."
"The Difficulty Of Diplomacy With
The centrist Independent commented
(9/4): "Iran has always had a nasty
habit of throwing a spanner in the works just as relations with the West seemed
to be improving: the Salman Rushdie affair, the question of its nuclear weapons
ambitions and now the spat over the extradition of its former ambassador to
Argentina from Britain.... So far
Britain--in contrast with Washington--has taken a lead in developing closer
relations with Tehran, taking the approach that it is better to reinforce the
voice of the moderates by engagement rather than confront the regime as a
whole. But that has been undermined by
the clampdown on student protest in Tehran and Iran's refusal to allow UN
inspectors full access to its nuclear sites.
At this stage, it is probably still better to follow the road of
engagement rather than outright confrontation, holding out the promise of
better relations if Iran cooperates over nuclear inspections or the threat of
isolation if it does not. The
extradition issue is a side one and should be kept as such. But if the Iranians do make it a paramount
issue of principle, there is no doubt where Britain must stand. And that is in favor of upholding the laws to
which it is signatory, whatever the collateral damage."
"Another Dangerous Collision Course"
Simon Tisdall wrote in the left-of-center Guardian
(9/4): "Britain's deteriorating
relationship with Iran, symbolized by yesterday's gun attack on the British
embassy in Tehran, might be explained in two words: Tony Blair.... The
Foreign Office has gingerly pursued a policy known variously as
constructive, critical or conditional engagement.... It cannot be said that...policy has been
outstandingly successful. But it did
reduce tensions between Iran and the west.
Until now. Britain's attempts at
rapprochement gained the support of its EU partners, but not of the U.S., which
eschews diplomatic relations with Tehran.
With the advent of George Bush and his post-September 11 declaration
that Iran was part of the 'axis of evil', the divergence in policy widened into
a gulf.... Downing Street let it be
known on June 12...that Blair was 'launching a drive to put maximum
international pressure on Iran' over its nuclear activities and that 'Britain's
policy of engagement with Iran will be reviewed unless it curbs its nuclear
ambitions'. Blair was also said to be
doubtful whether reformist President Mohammed Khatami 'still exercises any
moderating influence on the hardline Islamicist (sic) regime'.... Blair had also upped the ante at the EU
summit in June, presumptuously linking EU-Iran trade and other ties to the
swift resolution of the west's (meaning, principally, U.S. and British) nuclear
concerns.... Blair's single-handed and,
one might say, unilaterally preemptive transformation of British policy on Iran
seems to have been sealed during a private Downing Street dinner with Israel's
Ariel Sharon in July.... For Tehran, the
message was as clear as it was deliberately threatening.... As over Iraq, it seems the primary impetus
behind Blair's volte face comes from his familiar desire to stick close to
Bush's Washington, coupled with his own instinctive, untutored ideas about
setting the world to rights.... And thus
is a carefully calibrated, long-nurtured policy rendered unto dust."
"Let's Not Forget Iran And Syria, Libya's
Willing Partners In Crime"
Alasdair Palmer argued in the conservative Daily Telegraph
(8/17): "Libya has now said that it
'takes responsibility for the actions of its officials.' It seems to be as close as Col. Qadhafi will
get to admitting his role in the bombing [of Pan Am 103].... The list of guilty men who have escaped
justice for their role in commissioning Lockerbie's mass murder does not end
with Qadhafi: there is overwhelming evidence that both the Syrian and Iranian
governments were directly involved in commissioning and planning the
attack. Ayatollah Mohtashemi--one of the
Iranian government's most influential figures in 1988--was recorded as stating
that Iran would avenge the accidental shooting down of an Iranian civilian
airliner by the U.S.S. Vincennes with a similar explosion. The Iranians also paid Ahmed Jibril--the
notorious terrorist then headquartered in Damascus--$6 million for his
involvement in the bombing. If Qadhafi
is serious about owning up to responsibility for the bombing, then the least he
could do would be to come clean on the involvement of the Syrians and the Iranians
in the worst mass murder ever to occur on British soil. That, however, does not seem to be a UN
"The U.S. Is Starting A Nuclear Fight That
Will Be Hard To Stop"
Simon Tisdall wrote in the left-of-center Guardian
(8/9): "The strange, treacherous
ways of American diplomacy are...complicating [the] nuclear stand-off with
Iran. A September deadline now looms,
by which time Tehran is told it must accept 'challenge' inspections of its
nuclear facilities. If not, the U.S. may
seek UN sanctions and step up unilateral pressure; military options are not
entirely ruled out. Following
Washington's line, and egged on by Israel, Tony Blair is turning the screw,
too, threatening to block an EU trade deal and highlighting human rights
issues. Like North Korea, the Iranian
government is fully aware that U.S. tactics do not stem from worries about WMD
proliferation alone. But nor does it
totally dismiss western concerns. In
fact, Tehran has developed a series of not inflexible negotiating
positions. The question, once again, is
whether the U.S. is really interested in finding solutions.... Although, like the Bush administration, Iran
speaks with many voices, it knows it must improve relations with the west if it
is to succeed in building its economy and if the aspirations of its younger
generations are to be met without more trouble on the streets. But this, of course, is exactly why some in
Washington think that by hanging tough and raising the stakes, they can
eventually have it all. By continuing
and possibly escalating disputes, U.S. hawks hope not merely to tame the
mullahs but to topple them. This is a
potentially disastrous miscalculation, a recipe for intensifying internal and
external strife. It has little to do
with arms control or encouraging civil reform from within, and a lot to do with
imposing the U.S. world view from without.
This is why Iran's heated debate over UN inspections has acquired a
symbolic quality. This is why, as in
North Korea, some in Iran oppose anything that smacks of concessions."
"Negotiation Or The Bomb"
Charles Lambroschini opined in right-of-center Le Figaro
(8/4): “To have the bomb is the only way
for Iran to dissuade George W. Bush from subjecting it to the same fate as
Iraq. But it also prevents it from being
part of the international community.
Today even the EU, generally tolerant towards Tehran, is strongly
condemning its push towards proliferation.
The U.S. is wagering that Iran will return to its true calling which is,
like Turkey and Israel, to reshape the union of non-Arab people in the Middle
GERMANY: "The U.S.'
Growing Problem--Islamic Extremists Are Infiltrating Iraq"
Rainer Hermann noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(Internet version) (8/28): "Bremer
has expressed open criticism that Iran continues to interfere in the internal
affairs of Iraq, that the guardians of the revolution and the Iranian secret
service are working against the interests of the United States, and that
supporters of Ansar al-Islam, who had fled to Iran when war broke out, are now
returning to Iraq. It is true that Iran
is avoiding cooperating with Washington, but when it comes to fighting
terrorism it cooperates with Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia will soon open a consulate general in the Iranian town of
Maskhad, close to the border with Afghanistan.
Saudi Arabia hopes to limit escape routes for members of the al-Qaida
terror network and curb their freedom of movement. A legal agreement both sides signed in Riyadh
makes it possible to extradite militant Islamists arrested in Iran to Saudi
Dietrich Alexander had this to say in an editorial in
right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/28): "Highly enriched uranium rings the alarm
bells. The Tehran explanation is hardly
plausible…. The findings of the UN
weapons inspectors rather seem to prove that the Mullah regime is buying the
components for the production of nuclear weapons at the global markets…. Encircled by nuclear powers, it is no
surprise that Iran is also striving for nuclear weapons, since they make
oneself untouchable, as the example of North Korea shows. But Iran's proximity to terrorists...makes
the possible ownership of weapons of mass destruction unpredictable and
dangerous. In this situation it is hardly useful that Iran seems to be willing
to sign the Additional Protocol of the NPT which allows unforeseen
controls. First, before the Protocol
enters into force, one year can pass, and second, Iran insists on its
sovereignty during the controls, even though the character of this monitoring
instrument is to cede part of the state's sovereignty to this International
Atomic Energy Agency. In any case, the whole matter does not contribute to
Iran's credibility. Tehran will continue
to isolate itself if it does not allow the international community unrestricted
access into its nuclear program."
"Sponsors Of Terror"
Dietrich Alexander commented in right-of-center Die Welt
(8/23): "These are bad times for
nations which support terror. After
Afghanistan, if not before, this is considered a truism everywhere in the
world, but apparently not in Iran.
Placed by George W. Bush on the 'axis of evil,' along with North Korea
and the former Iraqi regime, the shadows of the past are now threatening to
catch up with Tehran. That the Shiite
Hezbollah militia, with Iranian approval, is attacking Israel from Lebanese
soil is not new, but does not yet meet the requirement of state-sponsored
terrorism. However, this line of
reasoning could now be taken over by an Argentine court: in July 1994, 85 people died in an attack on
a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires.
The trail led to the Iranian Embassy and therefore to then Ambassador
Hadi Soleimanpour, today a research assistant at University of Durham in
northern England. His capture by
British authorities based on an Argentine extradition request makes it
clear: Argentina is dealing with its
past with the same commitment that Iran is using to conceal it. Should the ambassador and his Iranian
codefendants be found guilty--of which the investigating judge is convinced--it
would also expose the Iranian regime as a sponsor of terror and belies the
declarations of innocence from Tehran."
"Honesty Is Necessary"
Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf argued
(8/8): "Why does one of the
oil-richest country in the world need nuclear energy? The Iranian leadership has thus far not given
a plausible answer to this question and Tehran has great difficulty finding
sound reasons for its nuclear program....
The United States and Israel will not idly watch how the Mullahs produce
nuclear weapons.... Tehran can still
evade this dead end street--by practicing honesty."
Clemens Wergin observed in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin
(8/7): “The U.S. administration still
seems undecided whether to threaten Tehran or to enter into negotiations. Europe is in a more fortunate position. U.S.-Iranian relations have been poor for a
long time, but Tehran has much to lose in its dealings with Europe--the EU is
one of Tehran’s most important trading partner.
Iran might become the new test case for transatlantic relations. The United States has the opportunity to show
its trust in Europe’s ability to take action, and Europe must prove that it
takes seriously the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the
Martina Doering judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(8/7): “The United States and Europe are
concerned over Iran, but it is almost the only stable country in the region,
with U.S. forces stationed in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan. Aided by U.S. mediators, Turkey and Israel
are cooperating militarily, and hardly a day goes by without Israeli
politicians in Washington announcing the need to tackle Iran after Iraq. The Iranians feel threatened. Some want the nuclear bomb, others do
not. Maybe the accusations against Iran
are simply a way of preparing a regime change.
In the 1981 Declaration of Algiers ending the hostage crisis at the U.S.
embassy in Tehran, Washington stated that it would not get involved in Iran’s
domestic matters either politically or militarily.... But Washington has ignored so many
international treaties that this one should also not be a problem.”
Rudolph Chimelli argued in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (8/5): "It is new that
Iran's reform President Khatami is now warning against the development of
Islamic fascism.... But the presidential
warning was not an emotional appeal for resistance that could mobilize his
supporters. In his speech he remained
committal, trying to strike a balance between the various groups.... Nobody expects anything else from him, and
hardly anybody hopes that the reform majority in parliament will achieve a
breakthrough in the remaining time of its term.... For the regime, the preservation of power and
the survival in an unfriendly environment have the highest priority, they are
more important than the alleviation of the economic misery and even more
important than ideology. If, in this
situation, adjustments are necessary, Tehran will, in the end, be willing to do
so. This is probably a chance, may be
the only one."
Dietrich Alexander remarked in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin
(8/5): "The bankruptcy of the
Mullah state seems to be unavoidable.
Since he does not have any other means, President Khatami gave vent to
his annoyance and irritation with a sharp verbal attack.... It was as clear as possible and was directed
against the conservative power elite around religious leader Khamenei.... The fact that Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson,
the real crown witness of Iran's revolutionary power, together with moderate
forces opposes the Mullahs, has created a serious credibility problem for
them. This grandson with a well-known
name is accusing the Tehran regime of having betrayed his grandfather's legacy
and is preparing a counterrevolution in Iraq.
Together with international accusations of Iran pursuing a secret
nuclear program and of harboring leading cadres of Al Qaida, this would be
enough bad news to seek constructive solutions, even for a regime that is
determined to prevent its fall. But the
hubris of power has created a disastrous misinterpretation among the Mullahs. There will be change in Iran. The conservatives can still decide whether it
will be bloody change or whether they will play a role afterwards."
"Khatami's Futile Warnings"
Marita Doering judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(8/5): "Khatami used strong
words. Iran's prisons are full, young
students are rebelling, a paralyzing censorship is hovering over intellectuals,
the media and artists. The people are
pauperizing, and in addition there is foreign policy pressure from Washington.... That is why Khatami's words are directed to
the in and outside.... He indicates to
the conservative clerics that they must allow some pressure to get out of the kettle,
and that the Islamic system can be saved only by making concessions. But he also warns the opposition indirectly
against an open confrontation and its implications. The louder the calls for freedom, the more
narrow-minded would be the reaction of the opponents. But the opposition forces consider the
president not only a sweet-talker but also an advocate of the religious
system. They no longer listen to
Claudio Gorlier penned this analysis in centrist, influential La
Stampa (8/6): “It seems to me that
many Western observers are ignoring a fundamental aspect, i.e., that Iran is
the only Islamic country with a strong middle class.... This middle class...is silently but
effectively trying to achieve democratic reforms, including women’s rights. The students who march in the streets are its
restless children. The leaders of this
middle class are economically strong, travel, and maintain relations abroad,
including in the United States, where they enjoy low-key but concrete support. This part of the Iranian population
represents the hope for the future. Some
U.S. administration members and several U.S. economic lobbies are aware of that
and I believe that they will advise Bush to think twice before attacking Iran.”
RUSSIA: "Bolton Needs
To Be Convincing"
Andrey Ivanov said in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(8/26): "Meeting with Russia's
Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev, [Undersecretary of State] Bolton
may come up with a new trump card to try to persuade Russia not to sign a
protocol with Iran yet.... To make that
work, he must be very convincing because Russia, as well as being determined to
see the work on the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear plant through, intends to
take part in a tender for the second unit."
"Pyongyang's, Tehran's Possibilities Overstated"
Andrey Terekhov and Mikhail Khodaryonok commented in centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta (8/7): "Reports about
North Korea's plans to sell rockets to Iran and the danger they will pose to
Europe may be an exaggeration. What
Pyongyang really has now is a bunch of stages of updated Scud rockets, at the
most. The latest in North Korea's
rockets has a range of 4,000 to 6,000 km.
Hypothetically, it can reach most cities in Western Europe, if launched
from Iran. But its accuracy leaves much
to be desired. Practically, North Korean
rockets can hardly hit even a big city."
POLAND: "The Mission
And Trial Of Strength"
Robert Stefanicki observed in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza
(8/14): “Now that Saddam Hussein has
been ousted, the main dilemma for the Bush administration’s foreign policy is
as follows: should the war on terror be the U.S. priority, or would it be
better to follow through and extend the 'civilizing mission’ (officially called
disarmament) to include other not submissive and dangerous regimes--Iran in
particular, which was placed along with Iraq in Bush’s ‘axis of evil.’ The case of al-Qaida leaders detained in Iran
shows that it is not possible to realize both goals at the same time.... The trial of strength continues within the
U.S. administration. On the one side we
have ‘hawks’ under the leadership of
Donald Rumsfeld, who promote...a tough course on Iran, and...on the other side
we have the ‘doves’ of Secretary Colin Powell, who believe that we must talk
with Iran. Should the former prevail, Washington’s critics would be assured
that the war on terror that recedes into the background was only a pretext to
strengthen U.S. domination of the Middle East.”
Weapons Threat Persists"
Per Ahlin observed in liberal, independent Dagens Nyheter
(Internet version) (8/20):
"Regardless of whether or not any Iraqi [WMD] are found, it is
obvious that the threat from weapons of mass destruction is greater today that
it has perhaps ever been before....
Tehran will not halt its nuclear energy program, Ayatollah Ali Khameini
said.... We have only 'peaceful
objectives,' the Iranian leader claimed....
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a threat that can
only be countered through cooperation.
But the fundamental problem, which the Swedish government has also
pointed out, is not the lack of conventions, mechanisms, or programs. It is the lack of political will on the part
of the original nuclear powers to fulfill their commitment to actually start
disarming in earnest. As long as they do
not take the lead, no one else will either.
And the more countries that have nuclear weapons, the greater the risk
that they will be used--by these countries themselves or a terrorist
Financing Iran's Nuke"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(8/28): "Western intelligence
agencies agree that Iran is racing to construct a bomb, with the main
disagreement being how long it will take and at what stage, if any, the program
can be blocked. The scandal is the
number of supposedly responsible nations that will be to blame if Iran succeeds
in going nuclear.... Countries which
sanctimoniously preach against violence and urge peaceful resolution of all
differences cannot continue business as usual with those who can only be
considered as the forces of darkness in the context of present-day
international affairs. They are fully
aware of the sinister nature of the Iranian regime and have been amply
forewarned about its nuclear ambitions....
Is it...too much to ask that they not aid, abet, and offer succor to a
regime that is a clear and present danger?
Iran can be isolated economically.
This is a measure Tehran dreads.
Those who will not desist even from aiding a dangerous foe, forfeit the
moral right to berate any resolute democracy be it America or Israel which is
left with no choice but to protect this region and the world."
"The Libyan Model"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(8/19): "Now, following Libya's
admission of responsibility for the [Lockerbie] attack...the UN is set to lift
sanctions on Libya. Should this be
considered a victory or a surrender in the war against terrorism?.... The more immediate question, however, is why
the Libyan model is not being applied to the most active, unchastened sponsors
of terrorism today: Iran and Syria....
In the case of Iran, the Libyan model may not be sufficient to either
prevent Tehran's rapid nuclearization or trigger regime change, but massive
international sanctions are a minimal step in the right direction.... It is understandable that nations resist
supporting military invasions and taking over countries, as was finally
necessary in Iraq. The alternative is
not to do nothing, but rather to ban flights, recall advisers, freeze assets,
and downgrade relations as was done successfully against Libya."
"Time To End The Combative Talk"
Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in independent,
left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/19):
"A nuclear Iran is not an Israeli problem, but a problem for the
entire West. It is a mistake to present
a nuclear Iran as a danger aimed only at Israel and to put it at the center of
an Iranian-Israeli conflict.... It is time
to stop waving the scarecrow arms of existential threats and it is time to stop
making combative statements that sometimes create dangerous dynamics of
escalation on their own. If statements
can be unnecessary and damaging, attacking the Bushehr reactor would be 10
times worse.... Even a successful attack
at Bushehr might at best only postpone the development of nuclear weapons, but
it is doubtful that would justify the political price Israel would be made to
pay for the military action, the escalation that could be expected in the
region and the elimination of American diplomatic pressure on Iran. In addition, even if Iran completes its
nuclear development program, it will still take a long time for it to
miniaturize the weapon to fit as a warhead into the payload of a ballistic
missile that can reach Israel.
Therefore, there is no need for urgent action."
"Sharon Prefers Quiet"
Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in
independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/14): "Israel views the Iranian nuclear
project as the greatest danger to its national security.... Attacking Iran's nuclear
installations would be far more complicated than the destruction of the Osirak
nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981.... Therefore, Israel prefers to maintain
a low profile and to let the United States lead the fight against Iran's
"Eyes And Ears"
Jihad al-Khazin commented in the pan-Arab Al-Hayat
(8/3): "Of course there is a
well-known nuclear program in Iran; however, the government in Tehran
emphasizes that it is for peaceful purposes and to produce electricity.... Its program is 100 percent legitimate and
within the limits of international laws and the nonproliferation
treaty.... The nonproliferation treaty
allows any signatory to withdraw from the treaty after giving three-month
notice.... This means that Iran could
withdraw after it possesses enough uranium, and then it could produce nuclear
weapons. What is the solution? Definitely there are solutions; however,
threatening Iran is not one of them....
Nevertheless, President Bush is threatening it on regular basis, and
since the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime his administration publicly
incites the students to defy the regime.
The problem here, like any other problem in the Middle East, is not
Iran; the problem is Israel and the United States, which is totally committed
to a nuclear country led by a war criminal, and which announces that it will
prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons and disregards Israel's possession
of these weapons together with the means to send them to their targets.... The strangest thing in this issue is that the
U.S. administration threatens Iran and is hostile to it, then it demands that
Iran extradites leaders of the al-Qaida, whom the Iranian authorities detained
after they crossed the Afghan border....
In the midst of all this, the confrontation between the United States
and Iran continues. This confrontation will not result in a war similar to that
on Iraq. What facilitated the war on
Iraq, in addition to all the lies that were used to justify it, was that Saddam
Hussein was a dictator who was impossible to defend.... On the other hand, in Iran there is an
elected president and an active parliament despite all the hindrances.... Nevertheless, the supporters of Israel are
trying, and the same gang which schemed the war on Iraq and instigated the
United States to wage it is planning now an action against Iran. The names are being repeated, the media is
doing the same, and the fictitious opposition is more or less similar to the
previous Iraqi situation."
LEBANON: "The Last Stop"
Columnist Sateh Noureddine wrote in Arab
nationalist As-Safir (8/6): “The
paradox is amazing: an official delegation from the Iranian foreign ministry
visits Baghdad and meets the president of the Governing Council, at the time
when Khomeini’s grandson announces from Karbala secession from the religious
authority in Tehran. What is even
stranger is that the above two exceptional events are taking place in Iraq
which is under American occupation. The
official Iranian delegation received approval from the U.S. before it entered
Baghdad and met with some members of the Governing Council, this council which
has protected Khomeini’s grandson ever since he entered Iraqi territory one
month ago. There is no doubt that
America is managing these two events with savvy and intelligence.... The Americans decided to contain
what...appears to be an increasingly realistic approach by the Iranians. This approach might extend in the future to
Hizbullah, and others.”
"U.S. And Iran"
Criticizing recent statements of Hussein Al
Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Al Khomeini, in which he asserted that the same
actions that brought down Saddam's regime could have the same result in Iran,
Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab daily Akhbar Al Arab editorialized (8/10): "Has Washington become the world's
'monster,' called to frighten and threaten regimes in order to accept any
required changes?... The U.S. does not
have the solution, or else Iraq would be living in happiness, prosperity, and
order. Using America to frighten the
world is a clear point that there is a policeman in the world that can provide
"Enough Of The Double Standard Policy"
Noureddine Hlaoui asserted in independent
French-language daily Le Temps (8/28):
"While continuing to tolerate the existence of a frightening
nuclear arsenal in the hands of Tel Aviv and by accepting to start multilateral
negotiations with North Korea, which already possesses the atomic bomb, the
Americans are putting unsustainable pressure on Tehran by making the worst
threats to be used against the Iranians.
The AIEA Director General, Mohammed El Baradei, has recently denounced
this American double standard policy. He
emphasized the fact of an American creation of 'small nuclear bombs’ on the
pretext of their ability to destroy the ‘enemy’ bunkers. Hence, while pretending to work against the
proliferation of WMD, Bush and his administration don’t hesitate to produce the
most sophisticated weapons."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
Double Standard On Nukes Means Proliferation"
Senior writer Janadas Devan commented in the pro-government Straits
Times (8/15): "That happy run
for non-proliferation ended in 1998, and is now being upended by North Korea
and possibly Iran. Within a few years,
there may be as many as 10 nuclear powers....
The U.S. bears an enormous responsibility for this tragic reversal. On the question of terrorists or 'rogue
states' acquiring nukes, the Bush administration has articulated a commendably
aggressive policy. But on almost every
other aspect of non-proliferation, it has been contradictory and hypocritical
to such an extent that even the credibility of its policies towards North Korea
and Iran has been affected."
THAILAND: "Time Is
Right For Dealing With Iran"
The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative,
English language Bangkok Post read (8/31): “More bad news came out of Iran. There are mounting concerns that Iran is
making preparations to produce nuclear weapons and that it has been getting
help from scientists from Pakistan and North Korea to do so.... There are those who think that it is unwise
to deal with Iran as long as the democratically elected government led by
Khatami is forced to share power with the ruling clerics. But it seems there isn’t much of an
alternative to dealing with Iran based on the realities of the situation, short
of another pre-emptive military takeover, which would be very risky given the
current tensions in the region and the low level of international support for
the last such action in Iraq. Much of
the world is of the opinion that engaging Iran economically while encouraging
democratization is the best way to go....
Clearly this is the best time to deal.
Further isolation from the international community only increases the
chances that Iran will develop those weapons.”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Economic Sanctions: Iran's Least
Gholamreza Abdolvand contended in Mardom-Salari
of Tehran (Internet version) (8/21):
"Although the downfall of Saddam's regime was to the benefit of the
Islamic Republic, nevertheless it upset the regional security architecture and
created new conditions. The vague
atmosphere has made it difficult for Iran's leaders to predict America's
ensuing moves. Nevertheless, Iran will
not surrender to America's demands without any political or economic
rewards.... America can propose two
options. The first is the prospect of
cooperation in Iraq.... The second
option is economic.... Although the
Clinton administration lifted some of the sanctions, this was not welcomed by
Iran because of the minimal economic interests vis-a-vis the immense political
concessions. Washington should lift all
the economic sanctions, and Iran should refrain from positions that become the
target of international accusations. The
reports on the arrest of al-Qaida members inside Iran harm this country's
international situation. We should admit
that such approaches inflict irreparable damages on Iran's credibility
and...will grant the foreign countries the necessary pretext to easily make
Iran the target of their harsh accusations.
They will also prepare the ground for Iran's political isolation, to say
the least, and even military attack and so on."
"The Need For Confidence Building In
Dr. Kazem Jalali commented in Mardom-Salari
(Internet version) (8/17): "The
Islamic Republic of Iran--because...the threats vis-a-vis Iran stem from the
actions and strategies of the big powers and especially America--has adopted
and is implementing the policy of 'achieving maximum deterrence and acquiring
defensive and military readiness.'...
However, this policy can lead to security fears and concerns of other
countries, and especially countries in the Persian Gulf, and they may regard
Iran as a major threat. Such concern
over Iran's policy definitely conflicts with detente and regional cooperation
for establishing and preserving regional security. Meanwhile, since policy can lead to an arms
race in the region, and big powers that are hostile toward Iran--powers like
America and Israel--may provoke military action against Iran, in parallel with
the policy of deterrence and military readiness, the Islamic Republic of Iran
has unilaterally pursued a confidence-building and arms-transparency
policy. Among these actions, one can
refer to Iran's voluntary membership in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the
Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and two other conventions--the Chemical
Weapons Convention (CWC), and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),
agreements on which have been signed and are to be ratified by the Majles
soon. It would be better for Iran to
continue its confidence-building and detente policy while, at the same time
definitely enhance its policy of deterrence and military readiness in the said
regions, as well as its global strength and influence in the new world order
and to reduce the strength and influence of its actual and potential rivals in
the arena of rivalries."
"Foreign Policy And Domestic Affairs"
Pro-Khatami daily Towse'eh editorialized (8/17): "The Khatami administration has made
acceptable and successful achievements in foreign policy during recent
years.... The least achievement...was the
creation of opportunities for meeting Iran's national interests in the world
community and attaining a deserving status among the world countries. Nonetheless, the more important point...is to
retain this status and achieve even better positions in the international
community. This matter requires us to
pay attention to internal affairs and avoid behaviors that could affect the
system's image in the international arena, so that developing ties with the
global family would become difficult and sometimes impossible. The matter that has today made the European
Union bring 'buts' and 'ifs' in its relations with Iran and set conditions for
maintaining and boosting its ties, unfortunately, is the result of behaviors
being exercised inside the country, in the mold of interior policy. Such behaviors will call into question the
status of Iran in the world community.
Thus, enjoying success in foreign policy depends on attending the
interior policies and by separating these two from each other will actually
prevent us from achieving desirable conditions in both fields."
"Al-Qaida Equals The World's Hatred"
Ali Shirazinasab held in reformist daily
affiliated with the leftist Militant Clerics Association Aftab-e Yazd
(Internet version) (8/12):
"Al-Qaida is a name inevitably associated with bombs, murder and
terrorist acts. Powerful states in the
world will do anything to prevent its activities, which encompass the globe
from east to west, threatening their national security and harming their
citizens. Readers are well aware that
the group's terrorist attacks against America in a number of countries soon
gave the United States an excuse to attack any country it believed it was
necessary to target, which is why many political observers have concluded that
the group and its leader, Usama bin Ladin, were agents and creatures of America
and its security agencies and that their activities served the aims of
America.... American officials have yet
to present a firm or convincing argument to contradict this.... America no longer pursues his discovery and
arrest with the same determination. At
the same time it uses the pretext of the presence of such forces in countries
like Iran to exert pressure, engage in negative propaganda and threaten
military attack. Unfortunately the position
of certain Iranian officials on al-Qaida forces has been occasionally
contradictory and even helped create further problems. First a number of officials declared that no
member of the group was in Iran and that any such operative arrested in Iran
would be extradited to his own country.
But others have said that we must use the presence of al-Qaida elements
to haggle and extract concessions, and it is clearly mentioned at times that
they would not be returned to their respective countries of origin. Given America's increasing pressures against
our country and with the world's unending hatred of al-Qaida, irresponsible
remarks might well exacerbate pressures on our country and make it a victim of
their harmful presence."
"Iran And The Issue Of The Supplemental
Kabek Khabiri wrote in Iran of Tehran,
pro-Khatami morning daily published by the Islamic Republic News Agency
(8/6): "Iran has logical demands
that are among the natural rights of this country. The right to use nuclear energy for peaceful
purposes is a right of which no country could or should be deprived.... The Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty...emphasizes helping the member-states use nuclear energy for peaceful
purposes. The best means that could meet
Iran's interests seems to be diplomacy....
We must be able to raise our reasons for logical interaction with the
agency and, as much as possible, change the current threats into
opportunities. In addition, withdrawing
from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is not as easy in practice as it seems
in words. Iran should follow a
step-by-step policy to enjoy opportunities, while coping with the
restrictions. This policy demands
delicate, professional diplomacy that completely paves the way for the game and
the bargaining. We must not create
doubts of passiveness by hasty reactions.
What matters here is the best way to meet national interests, not the
best way to lose them."
Mojtaba Hoseyni held in pro-Khatami Towse'eh:
(Internet version) (8/4): "Iran has
continuously announced that any al-Qa'ida member who enters Iran will be
promptly arrested and deported.... The
Americans' greatest problem in dealing with Iran is their ignorance towards the
Iranian people and their priorities.
This people and this elected religious regime have continuously
recognized popular support as the regime's main support and insist upon
it. Therefore, this regime will never
need to use means that would undermine its popular support and weaken its
foundations. All of the efforts of this
regime are focused on preserving its independence and glory, and it will not
tolerate any pressures along this path.
The only cause for concern is the unpopular actions that certain groups
and institutions take, which can harm the regime's popularity. The use of such worn-out words by the
Americans shows that their knowledge about Iran and Iranians is lessening by
For American Designs"
Nusrat Mirza commented in the second largest
Urdu daily, Nawa-e-Waqt (9/4):
"After Afghanistan and Iraq, America faces difficulties in its
adventurism against Iran.... One of
America’s problems in the campaign against Iran is that its credibility has
been tarnished [in Iraq]. The
information that the U.S. administration gave to Americans or the world at
large turned out to be false.... If
President Bush indulges in adventurism against Iran by leveling same kind of
allegations (as against Afghanistan and Iraq) then he would not be in a
position to have the American public acquiesce to the proposition of attacking
Iran.... However, President Bush may
attack Iran in order to make the event a steppingstone for his success in the
coming presidential election; it would be a mistake, but who would punish a
superpower for the mistake."
"India’s Share In Iran’s
The Lahore-based liberal English daily, Daily
Times asserted (8/25): "The
latest news from the United States is that India too is part of a global
enterprise to arm Iran with nuclear weapons.
An intelligence source in Washington, seeking to counter accusations
made against Pakistan, has charged that Indian nuclear experts are working in a
number of nuclear enrichment plants in Iran and many Iranian scientists are
being trained in the Indian nuclear facilities in Bangalore and
Hyderabad.... In January this year there
was news that India and Iran had signed a secret defense agreement providing
for the stationing of Indian troops on the Iranian soil in case of war.... On the other hand, given the growing
Indo-Iranian strategic partnership, it is feasible that the Indians are selling
it for good money. The first alarm about
India selling nuclear reactors to Iran was raised as far back as 1991."
"Iran's Nuclear Program"
The Islamabad rightist English daily, Pakistan Observer
held (8/8): "The United States is
exerting undue pressure on Iran to dispense with its nuclear facilities, which
Iran is insisting are for power generation and for peaceful purposes. Iran has repeatedly said that it has no
desire to acquire nuclear weapons as it has no hegemonic ambitions. Yet the Bush administration has despicably stepped
up its vicious campaign against Iran after Iraq’s occupation.... History bears testimony to the fact that it
is the U.S. alone, which had used nuclear technology for destruction of
humanity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the sake of military victory and
political hegemony. It has, as a matter
of fact, no moral basis to dictate other countries not to acquire nuclear
technology, since it is guilty of committing the crime of using atom bombs
against Japan in 1945 to force its military surrender. At the same time, however, it will be
advisable for the Iranian authorities to agree to non-intrusive UN inspection
of its facilities to end the Washington-Tehran row. Wisdom demands that confrontation with the
U.S. should be avoided as its leadership is not willing to listen to reason in
the pursuit of its military and political objectives, especially against the
ARGENTINA: "The Ghost
Of Violence As A Backdrop"
Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading Clarin
opined (8/25): "Has Argentina been
threatened in a veiled way by Iranian violence?
One should wonder this after President Khatami's public warning that it
will promote 'strong action' in reaction to the recent arrest in London of
former Iranian ambassador to Buenos Aires, Hadi Soleimanpour.... Tehran has already cancelled most of the most
relevant elements of its historically fragile bilateral ties with
Argentina.... Only a direct rupture of
diplomatic ties is still pending but should not be dismissed.... Perhaps this unlucky episode is showing the
risk of leaving open a legal conflict between two countries that have been in
the political and judicial limbo of a lack of definition for too long. Even when it is true that Iran refuses to
clearly answer the obscure points of the attack on the AMIA [Jewish Community
Center], it is also true that the successive Argentine administrations and
courts have swayed between protecting Tehran and charging allegations against
it that had never been sustained by believable evidence.... Khatami has also publicly attacked the UK
authorities that have arrested the former Iranian ambassador in response to the
claim made by judge Galeano, which places us in an additionally uncomfortable
company. The UK, along with the U.S., are
the two countries having most serious offenses pending with the Islamic world,
particularly after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq."
Alfonso Elizondo wrote in independent El Norte (8/4): "There are many factors that have
impeded the development of the 'Islamic democracy' concept in most of the Islam
world. Partly because of the West’s
interference, partly due to religious fanaticism, but overall, because of the
West’s fear about Islamic governments....
Unfortunately, due to bad counseling and a lack of culture from the U.S.
experts in Islamic affairs, U.S. diplomacy has not attempted to establish a
cultural or religious liaison with any of these countries, so that there is a
refusal in all these countries toward anything that proceeds from the West,
which grows day by day.... Bush and his
counselors have been wanting to believe that this summer's phenomena in Iran
are the expression of a collision between Islamic theocracy and U.S. democracy,
that thanks to its value and wisdom it has penetrated Iran’s youth; nothing is
more distant from reality.”