International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 27, 2004

August 27, 2004





**  Iran is embarking on a "new level of escalation."     

**  Europe's mediation attempt is "doomed to fail." 

**  Conservative Iranian papers assail the U.S.' "excessive demands." 

**  Tehran sympathizers see no "persuasive and irrefutable evidence" of a WMD program.




'Reckless belligerence'--  Centrist and conservative dailies concluded that Iran poses "a genuine nuclear threat to world peace" and that Tehran is playing a "brazen game" of "brinkmanship" with Washington in the belief that the "looming presidential election and the war in Iraq have tied the U.S.' hands."  Because Iran "has long sought nuclear status as a means of achieving regional hegemony," declared Britain's conservative Daily Telegraph, "the sooner the issue of its nuclear program is referred to the UNSC, the better."  Citing Iran's threats against Israel and its "provocations," Canada's leading Globe and Mail added that Tehran's "sabre-rattling...has grown deafening." 


Tehran sees European diplomacy as 'Western weakness'--  Euro dailies agreed that the French-British-German "policy of constructive engagement" with Tehran "has collapsed"; France's left-of-center Liberation noted that "Paris, London and Berlin are clearly embarrassed" by Iran's "latest harsh policy."  Germany's right-of-center Die Welt also saw "little hope that mediation and talks can be successful."  Some Arab papers blamed Iran's "secretive" approach for causing a "chain reaction of ever-growing skepticism."  London-based pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat stated that "Tehran claims it is developing its missiles against the Zionists, but...past Iranian conflicts show that most clashes were with Saudi Arabia." 


Do not let the U.S. 'halt Iran's nuclear activity'--  Observers in Iran blasted the "American-Israeli strategy" to Tehran Iran from having "peaceful nuclear activities approved by the IAEA" and called on officials to safeguard "Iran's national interests and national pride."  The conservative Tehran Times assailed the U.S.' "propaganda campaign about Iran's civilian nuclear program."  Reformist dailies instead urged Tehran to "continue with discussions...with European officials" and the IAEA to "eliminate concern over Iran's nuclear program."  Rejecting "confrontation" and secrecy, pro-Khatami Tehran Iran held that "growing technical cooperation with the IAEA is certainly in favor of our national interests." 


Iran is the U.S.' 'top target'--  Critics rejected Washington's "tough and arrogant stance," instead urging "dialogue and diplomacy."  Pro-PRC Macau Daily News warned the U.S. "may attempt to overthrow the current Iranian regime"; Lebanon's Arab nationalist As-Safir predicted that "Iran will be Washington's next target in the war on terror."  Several papers stressed the "great political and diplomatic risk" to the U.S. of being seen as a "Zionist accessory" if Israel strikes Iran's nuclear facilities.  Pakistan's center-right Nation advised the U.S. to "counsel Israel against any move that could aggravate the regional situation." 


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 37 reports from 17 countries over 17 - 27 August 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




IRAN:  "Do Less Costly Solutions Exist?"


Reformist Etemaad declared (8/24):  "From the first days when Iran's file was placed on the agenda of the IAEA, the hardline groups believed that supposed messages and international protocols and threats should be ignored....  The view of this group is that since the final outcome of the issue is predictable, Tehran should not commit suicide out of fear of death but should--by welcoming clashes and confrontations and even economic sanctions by the UN--mobilize its forces and turn to a policy of facing up to the West.   Meanwhile, the reformists, after their exit from the Majles, entrusted the arena to their rivals and the government is opposed to the interference of a major section of the conservatives and adventurist hardliners and believes that certain less costly solutions still exist.  Observers point to the intensification of these differences in various arenas and believe that in the future, the main challenge inside the system is to choose one of these options--a choice that has to be made before the end of the year and the presidential election."


"U.S. Changed Their Minds"


Reformist Aftab-e Yazd editorialized (8/22):  "The Americans, who, for sometime now, had been stressing that Iran's [nuclear] file should be referred to the UNSC, changed their position over this issue towards the end of this week. Their insistence that Iran's file should be unconditionally referred to the UNSC was the emphasis of American officials that they will cooperate with other countries to eliminate concern over Iran's nuclear program. Some political analysts believe that the fact that the head of the IAEA expressed the hope that Iran's nuclear file will be settled in the coming months, is a sign that the file will not be passed on to the UNSC.  This is something that has also been emphasized by some diplomats close to the IAEA, who have declared that Iran's file in the September meeting [due 13 September] will neither be closed nor referred to the UNSC." 


"Excessive Demands"


Conservative Khorasan noted (8/22):  "We should accept that under circumstances when America, with its daily excessive demands...threatens Iran periodically with one linguistic expression or another and with one pretext or another, and when the occupying Quds [Jerusalem] regime, also in line with America, behaves with impudence, broaching the question of attacking Iran's centres for the potential production of nuclear energy, our officials should give an appropriate and timely reply to this in the same tone, so that, in addition to preventing any country from entertaining the idea of attacking Iran, the people, too, might be assured that the officials safeguarding Iran's national interests and national pride, are performing their duties correctly and on time."


"Cooperation With Europe"


Reformist Etemaad advised (8/22):  "American officials are giving news of their cooperation with their European allies concerning Iran's nuclear program....  At the moment the best option for America is to cooperate with its European partners since, to act unilaterally in the costly and burdensome for that country.  It would also not be considered as a diplomatic victory for America.  In the midst of all this, the manner of Iran's cooperation with European countries and the IAEA could be effective in gaining victory in the IAEA's war.  It seems that Iran's biggest diplomatic struggle is to continue the discussions and not to lose hope about talks with European officials. It should also encourage the IAEA to conduct technical and legal rather than political investigation into its nuclear file."


"West Stepping Up Propaganda Campaign Against Iran's Nuclear Program"


The conservative English-language Tehran Times opined (8/21):  "Western and Zionist officials and their allies have intensified their disinformation campaign targeting Iran’s civilian nuclear program in order to influence the upcoming IAEA meeting in September....  The Canadian foreign minister expressed concern about Iran’s nuclear program...claiming that Canada needs assurances that Iran will observe its international commitments but presented no evidence that Iran had reneged on its commitments.  Through his ambiguous remarks, the Canadian minister was trying to appease U.S. and Zionist officials....  In reality, Iran only intends to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in line with the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Sunday that the Westerners intend to take the issue of Iran’s nuclear dossier so far that Iran will not even have the right to mention anything about nuclear technology.  But regardless of the clamor, the Islamic Republic only intends to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes....  Zionist officials have never denied the various reports that indicate that Israel possesses about 400 nuclear warheads.  In light of the open secret of the Zionist regime’s nuclear arsenal, the whole world is wondering why the U.S. is not trying to convince Israel to sign the NPT but is instead expending its energy on its propaganda campaign about Iran’s civilian nuclear program."


"Iran's File On The Desk Of The IAEA" 


Mas'ud Mirza'i stated in pro-Khatami Tehran Iran (8/19):  "Over the past week...American officials...once again accused Iran of endeavoring to produce WMD and stressed that they will continue to exert all-encompassing pressures against Iran's nuclear activities....  Stressing an American-Israeli strategy, Washington is endeavoring to halt Iran's nuclear activity at any price and to send the file to the UNSC in order to impose political and economic sanctions and to even undertake possible military action against Iran....  On the other hand, while opposing the American-Israeli strategy, European countries and even some member states of the Nonaligned Movement emphasize the so-called European strategy and believe that the Islamic Republic's nuclear file must be resolved diplomatically and in the IAEA.  While expressing concern about some aspects of Iran's nuclear activities, these countries state that Iran must be encouraged to cooperate further through political activity and likewise seriously avoid irrational measures and pressures that might cause Iran to react strongly and to possibly withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty....  The IAEA Board of Governors will not declare an end to Iran's atomic file in its upcoming meeting and that probably member states of the board will once again call in stronger terms for more transparent cooperation with the international community by Tehran.   On the other hand, in the current situation it seems unlikely for the U.S. to be able to convince European countries to send Iran's atomic file to the UNSC....  As can be inferred from the remarks made by American officials, Washington is not under any circumstances willing to officially recognize for Iran to have peaceful nuclear activities approved by the IAEA, while European officials believe that if Iran were to increase transparency in its nuclear conduct...they are willing to cooperate with Iran....  Tehran must do its utmost to rid technical and legal discussions related to Iran's nuclear cooperation...considering the stress laid by Iran on the peaceful nature of its activities, growing technical cooperation with the IAEA is certainly in favor of our national interests."


INDIA:  "Breathing Down Tehran's Back" 


The nationalist Hindustan Times declaimed (8/27):  "Iran's warning that it would "retaliate vehemently" in the event of a preemptive Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities is another storm warning in a region already battered by typhoons....  Iran's foreign ministry admonished Israel for not scotching such speculation.  Israel's bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 must weigh on Teheran, although Tel Aviv had then acted alone without Washington's nod, unlike now when the U.S. could well be a partner in the enterprise.  This probably drives the IAEA's desperate efforts to get Iran to allow full inspections of its nuclear facilities. Last week, U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice even threatened unilateral military action....  Whether this hints at surgical strikes or covert action is anybody's guess. But it would be a high-risk gamble for President George Bush, especially in the pre-election season....  Iran's perceived meddling in Iraq, its ambiguous attitude to al-Qaeda and support for anti-Israeli groups like Hezbollah all seem to be under the State Department's scanner. It's unfortunate that Washington should talk of coercive, unilateral options instead of using dialogue and diplomacy. For its part, Teheran, which unlike India is a signatory to the NPT, must live up to the letter and spirit of its commitment that it will not make nuclear weapons."


"Iran's Nuclear Program Needs To Be Controlled"


Mumbai-based centrist Gujariti-language Janmabhoomi editorialized (8/24):  "Although U.S. President George Bush may claim that the war on Iraq has established stability in the Middle-east, it has in fact delayed the much needed attention and action on Iran's nuclear program.  Though Iran is posing a genuine nuclear threat to world peace, the U.S. boasts that it will succeed in restraining that country's nuclear program.  On the other hand, the government of Iran has clearly stated that it will not bow down to the U.S. pressure in this regard....  Though Iran has assured that it will abide by all the international norms while pursuing its nuclear program, there is no doubt that such a program will only endanger world peace and security.  It is therefore imperative for the U.S. and other developed nations of to engage Iran in resolving the issue diplomatically and, if required, to raise it in the UN to prevent Iran from pursuing such a perilous course"


"Iran And The U.S." 


Hamid Ansari concluded in the centrist Hindu (8/23):  "The Council for Foreign Relations, New York, published a Report on Iran produced by an Independent Task Force....  The principal recommendation of the Task Force, for U.S. policy, is that a direct dialogue be initiated with Iran on specific subjects....  The section of the Report on regional conflicts--Iraq and Afghanistan--indicates the urgency of a new approach. The U.S. has compelling interests in both....  The Report recommends incremental progress rather than a grand bargain, and accepts that the regime of sanctions has not produced the desired results....  The publication of the Report has rekindled a fierce new debate between the realists and the neo-conservatives....  Ideological imperatives notwithstanding, practical considerations are beginning to be voiced....  The impulses motivating the Report require careful analysis. The difficulties of the ventures in Afghanistan and Iraq could be one reason. Another could be the nuclear profile of Iran. The sheer impracticality of ignoring Iran in a wider scheme of things covering West and Central Asia may finally have provoked this departure from orthodoxy.  That the CFR, so representative of the foreign policy establishment, has taken the initiative at this stage suggests both a public acknowledgement of the failure of existing policy and a suggestion that some new thinking may fructify in the post-election period. The Report is a signaling exercise in an intricate game that the Americans and the Iranians have played over a number of years. The response from Teheran is typically Iranian--defiant and conciliatory, elliptical, contradictory, fully reflective of the multiplicity of centers that characterize the decision-making mechanism of the Islamic Republic....  The resumed romance of a quarrelsome pair should therefore be watched with interest since it could have far-reaching geopolitical implications for the region and beyond."


PAKISTAN:  "Iran's Right Response"


The center-right national English-language Nation declared (8/20):  "Iran's bold response to periodic reports about Israeli intentions to destroy its peaceful nuclear installations, while befitting for a sovereign state determined to safeguard its legitimate interests, raises the pitch of the war of words between the two countries....  It would thus be virtually impossible for the U.S. to dissociate itself from any Israeli attack.  Besides, as Iran is, in the Bush administration's eyes, an 'axis of evil' member its complicity and, indeed, encouragement in the mad venture of striking out its nuclear installations would be automatically assumed, whatever the factual position.  Common sense would no doubt suggest that the U.S. would counsel Israel against any move that could aggravate the regional situation."


"Iran's Jaw-Breaking Response To The U.S."


Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt contended (8/20):  "Iran's Defense Minister has warned the U.S. that an American or Israeli strike on its nuclear installations would be considered an attack on the entire country.  He has added that the U.S. does not have the monopoly over pre-emptive strikes, Iran too can launch an attack to protect itself....  The Iranian Defense Minister has said that the Israeli nuclear headquarters would be destroyed if Israel tried to attack Iranian nuclear installation....  How we wish we (Pakistan) had the same courage, and did not succumb to a mere phone call by the U.S. President (after 9/11) and had taken a few hours to consult our friends and ponder over the situation.  While we could not have responded as boldly as the Iranians, we could at least have reached a decision after due consideration for our dignity, and respect for Muslim brothers (in Afghanistan)."




BRITAIN:  "Iran Is Our Enemy’s Enemy But Not Our Friend"


Michael Gove wrote in the conservative Times (8/24):  "In the past three months one of the major planks of British diplomacy has collapsed underneath the Foreign Secretary.  For the past three years Mr. Straw has been practising a policy of constructive engagement towards Iran....  There were those, not last within the Bush Administration, who doubted the wisdom of placing so many eggs in the Persian basket....  The Americans not only swallowed their doubts about the wisdom of Mr. Straw’s plan, they also kept quiet when France and Germany joined in....  The Germans, British and French may well have succeeded in influencing Iranian policy by their actions.  But it is hard to see how Iran’s actions recently can be considered friendly.  Even by French standards....  The regime in Tehran has interpreted the EU’s desire to develop a constructive relationship as Western weakness, and America’s acquiescence while she is involved in Iraq as confirmation of that weakness."


"Iran Should Be Punished For Nuclear Cheating"


The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (8/19):  "Iran yesterday stepped up its defiance of the outside world by threatening to destroy Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona....  The British Government says it has no illusions about Iran’s determination to become a nuclear weapons power, an admission which underlines the bankruptcy of its policy of constructive engagement....  Iran has long sought nuclear status as a means of achieving regional hegemony.  But it also remains a power determined to export Islamic revolution worldwide, with the goal of destroying the liberal democracies....  The sooner the issue of its nuclear program is referred to the UNSC, the better.  If it persists in cheating, Teheran must be further isolated and, if necessary, punished by sanctions.  Beyond that, America and its allies should leave the clerics in no doubt that they will not tolerate their possession of nuclear weapons.  In such hands, they would pose a far greater threat than Iraq under Saddam Hussein."


FRANCE:  "Iran, The New U.S. Target"


Jacques Amalric noted in left-of-center Liberation (8/26):  “America’s neo-cons, who have been forced to keep a low-profile because of the Iraqi fiasco...are back. They had named Iraq as a priority of President Bush’s first term in office. For the second term, the priority will be Iran...and for the same reasons: the fight against terrorism and the eradication of WMD....  No matter that their reasoning about Iraq proved to be wrong....  Meanwhile Iran, which has never accepted the existence of Israel, has launched on a dangerous escalation. It is as if, aware that the U.S. is locked into its Iraqi quagmire, Iran were taking advantage of the situation to accelerate its nuclear military program....  Iran’s latest harsh policy has taken France and its partners by surprise....  Paris, London and Berlin are clearly embarrassed by Iran’s new attitude....  Everyone expects the U.S. to ask the UNSC to impose sanctions on Teheran...something the three European nations, plus Russia, hoped to avoid....  The next three months will be full of dangers, which may come from more Iranian provocations or from an Israeli preventive operation.”


GERMANY:  "Iran"


Manfred Pantfoerder commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/20):  "There are more signs that the conflict over Iran's nuclear program is getting worse, because the Iranian leadership is not willing to comply with the demands of the international community and rejects to prove that it does not work on a nuclear arms program.  Tehran does not want to give up building modern centrifuges and threatens to take up enriching uranium again.  That is a movement towards producing a bomb, which it could get within three years, according to Washington.  The mediation attempt of Germany, Britain and France is doomed to fail here.  The Iranian leadership is even threatening the U.S., which tries to stop the nuclear ambitions of the Mullah regime....  This is evidence that Tehran will not voluntarily choose the way of Libya's Qadhafi.  Further pressure is necessary.  Given Tehran's obstructive policy, the IAEA must decide soon to forward the case to the UNSC.  Tehran has overstretched the patience of the world community.  There is only little hope that mediation and talks can be successful, because the Iranian foreign policy is based on deep-seated hostility toward Israel."


"War Of Words"


Stefan Ulrich judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/20):  "They disregard international treaties, keep their nuclear programs secret, and threaten retaliatory strikes.  No, we do not speak of America.  In a rhetorical reversal of the balance of forces, the Iranians are now making threats....  With this, the Iranians have catapulted the conflict over their nuclear program onto a new level of escalation.  They are threatening war....  The religious leaders feel strengthened for four reasons.  The problems in Baghdad are outgrowing the Bush administration; it will by no means dare a new large-scale confrontation before the November elections.  At the same time, the conservatives in Tehran consolidated their domestic policy position even more; and finally, it is very obvious that the Europeans hesitate putting thumbscrews based on UN resolutions and sanctions on Iran.  It is understandable that Europe pins its hopes on a solution that satisfies everyone, but it should not forget about two conditions for a success: cohesiveness of the West and a credible scenario of threats.  Even conservatives in Tehran are no idiots who easily allow the situation to get out of control. They also weigh risks and test pain thresholds.  The new threats are part of this brazen game.  Those who want to end it, need strength and unity."


RUSSIA:  "Arrogance Is Bad For U.S. Image"


Aleksey Ventslovskiy argued in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (8/27):  "One may ignore those inflammatory calls [for a possible pre-emptive stirke], of course.  But there is something about them that makes one wary.  Those calls fell in time with a statement by U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that her country will not stand Iran becoming a nuclear power.  Obviously, a tough and arrogant stance like that will not add to Washington's authority in the world.   Instead, it will bring about a rise in anti-American sentiment, resulting in the situation getting out of control."


NORWAY:  “A Dangerous War-doctrine Is Spreading"


Social-democratic Dagsavisen asserted (8/22):  "The doctrine on pre-emptive strikes was central for the U.S. to justify its war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq....  The doctrine is now spreading. Last Wednesday Iran’s Minister of Defense, Ali Shamkani, warned that Iran could use a pre-emptive strike to stop an attack of its nuclear plants....  In Israel they are aware that an attack on Iran would provoke ‘a terrible response.’ Pre-emptive strikes would put the snowball in motion. The world will be more dangerous to live in when more and more are tempted--by fear or presumption--to use this war doctrine.”


TURKEY:  "Turkey And Iran’s Nuclear Threat"


Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (8/25):  “Developments in Iran’s nuclear program coincide with improved bilateral relations between Turkey and Iran.  However, international concern about the Iranian nuclear program and the possibility that Iran could produce nuclear weapons is also a part of Ankara’s agenda.  Turkish diplomats and strategists are closely watching developments in this regard.  As one MFA official expressed, ‘Ankara has noted the Iranian explanation that its nuclear efforts are intended for peaceful use, such as the production of electricity.  We are trying to determine if this is the whole truth.’  Turkey does not consider Iran’s nuclear capability as a direct threat.  But if Iran really obtains nuclear weapons, it will turn the balances in the Middle East completely upside-down and constitute a new ground for foreign intervention, including by the United States.”




ISRAEL:  "Race Against The Shihab Missile"


Amir Rappaport opined in popular, pluralist Maariv (8/27):  "The Arrow test held on Thursday, only a week after Iran staged a test as part of the project for developing the Shihab 3 missile, which is meant to reach Israel--attests more than anything else to the dramatic race that is emerging in the Middle East with regard to the question whether the Iranians will complete the development of their missiles before the Arrow can provide a response to them or vice versa.  Originally, the Arrow missiles were developed as a response to Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles, but today the Iranian threat is much more relevant, and particularly severe, since along with the missiles Iran is also developing nuclear weapons.  Israel cannot allow itself to reach a situation where it will be found, for the first time in its history, under a nuclear threat.  The very existence of the threat would completely change our strategic situation, since it would enable numerous elements in the Middle East to 'raise their heads,' knowing that the Iranian bomb is their backing against an unrestrained Israeli reaction to their deeds.  The question when the Iranians will reach their first atom bomb is therefore more critical than the question when the Shihab 3 missiles will be operational.  As of now, the Iranians are determined to continue to go all the way to the bomb."


"Iranian Threat Chatter"


Zeev Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/20):  "Hardly a day goes by recently without some Iranian security official threatening Israel....  What fired up the Iranians?  Perhaps they reached the conclusion that Israel had a 'green light' from the U.S. for some operation against Iran's nuclear installations if other preventive measures failed.  The warning by U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that all means are being considered to prevent Iran and North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons did the trick.  If that is what led to the threats against Israel, it means Iran felt more exposed at this stage of the nuclear development.  Diverting the focus to Israel is an attempt to draw attention away from the fact that for the first time Iran, using the Shihab-3, has missiles that can reach NATO member Turkey and most Saudi cities and oil fields....  Today Israel is not alone in this struggle, and is part of an international front, which although not united also opposes the nuclear arming of Iran.  However, Israel still must consider a complicated situation in which it may have to act alone.  For this Israel must build up its forces and full deterrent capability."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "The Iranian Threat And The Danger Of Israel"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad opined (8/21):  "The Iranian threat of preemptive defensive attacks to protect its nuclear facilities is a new stage of struggle in the region.  Those threats must be seriously considered, rather than only being considered as media rhetoric.  Where it concerns nuclear war we should strongly think it through carefully....  The Arabs now are in a stronger position than the Israelis regarding nuclear power.  Therefore, allies of Israel want to solve the situation in favor of the interest of Israel....  Regardless of how serious the Iranian threat is, or the possible danger of an Israeli attack against Iran, the region cannot tolerate more struggles."


"Is Iran Serious About Striking Israel?"


Abdulrahman Al-Rashed asked in London-based pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat (8/19):  "Iran says its nuclear weapons are directed against Israel....  In fact, all the countries of the region use Israel as a pretext [for obtaining weapons], with some truth, but in reality the history of wars and conflicts [in the region] do not support such claims.  What concerns us here is not what they say but what they actually do.  Regrettably, past Iranian conflicts show that most clashes were with Saudi Arabia.  There were air encounters, ground offensives, and also with the UAE, and recently with Qatar....  Among those many Iranian clashes throughout a quarter of a century, there was no single direct clash with Israel.  The persistent buildup of Iranian advanced weapons worries Iran’s neighboring countries more than it worries Israel.  Tehran claims it is developing its missiles against the Zionists, but nothing supports that....  Tehran’s quite race to acquire advanced weapons, in reality, is not that it fears Israel, but that it fears those small neighboring countries, which will be compelled to obtain more weapons."


LEBANON:  "The Next Target:  Iran"


Editor-in-Chief Joseph Samaha held in Arab nationalist As-Safir (8/17):  "After Iraq, Iran will be Washington's next target in the war on terror whether U.S. President George W. Bush stays in the White House or not....  U.S. forces in Iraq are trying to tame Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's insurgency in order to tighten Washington's grip on Iraq and use it as a spring board for other regime changes in the region.  When the U.S.-led coalition forces crush Sadr's Mehdi Army, Washington will have only pro-American Shiite Iraqis--something that may facilitate the domino effect the Bush administration aimed to generate in the Middle East....  Even if Washington does not succeed in stabilizing Iraq...the U.S. will move against Iran because it blames Tehran for the quagmire in post-war Iraq, adding that American hawks will claim that removing the Islamic regime there is the best way to defuse the Iraq standoff....  The war party in Washington is comprised of 41 influential hawks from both the Republican and Democratic parties who formed the Imminent Danger Committee following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.  Hence...whether a Republican or Democratic administration occupies the White House next fall, this committee, which believes that political Islam equates the danger Communism used to pose to the West, will push for war on Iran.  The Islamic Republic fits all the required criteria for implementing Bush's pre-emptive strike policy; Iran is developing a nuclear program, supports terrorism, threatens Israel, Washington's main ally in the region, has an Islamic autocratic regime that could wreak havoc in the region and may disrupt the global oil market."


UAE:  "Iran Must Open Up To Nuclear Checks"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News maintained (8/24):  "It is no secret that US and European governments harbour deep suspicions about Iran's nuclear program. Even the technology used by Tehran, Russian, raises concerns in the west with the echoes of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.  Iran has been less than totally open about its plans to develop nuclear energy, in part because Tehran in turn harbours deep suspicions about US and European governments. But there is no reason, once matters of safety have been fully dealt with, why Iran should not have the capability to produce its own nuclear energy.  Critics may argue that Iran does not need such an energy source considering the abundance of oil. But the oil is primarily for export, an earner of hard currency, while nuclear energy, if properly managed, can be a reliable and cheap means of domestic power.  Tehran is too secretive in its approach and this has fuelled, and the phrase is appropriate in this case, a chain reaction of ever growing skepticism in the west. But once Iran complies with international standards and allows open and full inspection of its facilities, then a nuclear program will be beneficial. But openness is the ingredient most vital to foster international confidence."




CHINA:  "Would Iran Launch A ‘Pre-Emptive Strike’ Or Not"


Zi Yun commented in China Radio International-sponsored official World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (8/26):  “Iran’s Defense Minister said on August 18 that Iran is capable of launching a ‘pre-emptive strike’ against the U.S. military in the Gulf and defending Iranian nuclear facilities from attacks....  However, on the 21st, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman denied this at a routine press conference.  Iran wants to use the ‘Meter 3’ to increase its capability to fight against the U.S.  However, Iran’s test launch of the ‘Meter 3’ missile and its hardline attitude have brought the reverse result, making the U.S. more resolute about striking Iranian nuclear facilities and other targets.  Iran dared to talk wildly, even claiming that it would launch a ‘pre-emptive strike’ against the U.S., and the U.S. will not let it go at that....  If Bush is ultimately reelected as President, then he will have time to hit Iran....  Under U.S. pressure, Iran is facing a more and more disadvantageous international environment....  Iran has to be prepared in the face of the great pressure from the U.S. and its allies.  If it continues to ‘kick against the thorns,’ it could become another Iraq....  Therefore, after Iranian officials’ talk of a ‘pre-emptive strike’, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman stood up and said that ‘it was a misinterpretation,’ looking for a way to retreat.”


"U.S. Is Busy Deploying Its Military Around Iran"


Zuo Jianxiao observed in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (8/25):  “Analysts believe that after the ouster of the Saddam regime, Iran has become ‘the only thorn in the eye’ in the Gulf region for the U.S.  Although the U.S. has besieged Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. still lacks the right conditions to initiate a war against Iran.  However, there is the possibility that the U.S. would ‘murder with a borrowed knife:’ it could secretly support and instigate Israel to use the same old trick it used against Iraq’s nuclear facilities.  In face of this threat, Iran has tested a new type of medium-range ballistic missile, the ‘Meteor 3'....  It is said that all of Israel is within the range of Iran’s advanced missiles.”


"Why The U.S. Crusade Against Iran"


Liu Wanyuan said in official magazine Chinese News Weekly (Zhonguo Xinwen Zhoukan) (8/23):  “The U.S. 9/11 independence investigation ultimately concluded that Iran has something to do with Al Qaeda....  Cautious people note that in its accusation of Iran’s relations with Al Qaeda, the U.S. uses the word ‘might’ frequently, which means that the U.S. lacks persuasive and irrefutable evidence in its accusations against Iran....  Li Guofu, expert from the China Institute of International Studies told Chinese News Weekly that the U.S. aimed to exert pressure on the Iranian government through its high profile statement about Iran’s relations with Al Qaeda.  The U.S.’ primary concern is still the Iranian nuclear program....  Some hints indicate that the U.S. is losing its patience with the IAEA’s and European countries’ efforts... The U.S.’ attitude towards Iran is currently restricted by two factors: one is the Iraq situation, and the other is the election.  If the U.S. can stabilize Iraq as soon as possible and realize its strategic goals in Iraq, it will then target Iran and conduct a tougher stance against Iran.  However, if the U.S. is entrenched deep into the Iraqi swamp, Bush will learn a lesson from the Iraq war and not act rashly or blindly against Iran.”


"Iran Will Also Use The Preemptive Strike To Warn Israel Not to Act Rashly"


Chen Fan commented in official Communist Youth League-run China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (8/20):  "Although the preemptive strike strategy seems implausible for use in assaulting Iran’s nuclear facilities, such strategic thoughts will continually become a theme of Israel’s national security strategy....  However, some analysts point out that the reality of the U.S. stationing a large number of forces in Iraq is noteworthy, because Israel would lose the advantage of U.S. intelligence and human resource support if it really wanted to launch an independent sneak attack.  To the U.S., cooperating with Israel to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a great political and diplomatic risk.  If Israel succeeded in an assault, Washington would be regarded as and Zionist accessory by the Islamic world, and more Islamic extremists would launch more severe terror attacks against Western targets.  The U.S. does not want to see this happen.”


"U.S. Besieges Iran’s Oil Industry"


Tang Zhichao asserted in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (8/18):  “The U.S. government is very dissatisfied with many of its allies pouring into the Iranian oil market....  There are still doubts about how far the U.S.’ tough policies will go.  There are two clear-cut opposition groups in the U.S.:  the realists...and the neo-conservatives....  But the two groups have one thing in common regarding the Bush administration’s Iran policy: they both criticize the Bush administration’s lack of a clear and consistent policy toward Iran for the past four years.  Actually the U.S. has been trapped in a dilemma on its Iran policy: on the one hand it wants to contain Iran from developing nuclear weapons, on the other hand, it needs Iran’s cooperation in Afghanistan and Iraq, assisting in stabilizing the Iraq situation.  The reason that Japan agreed to sign an accord is, to a great degree, that it sees prospects for U.S.-Iran relations.  Different from the situation in Iraq, most of Bush’s western allies have great economic interests and large amount of investment in Iran.  In the future, for a certain period, the Iran nuclear issue will probably become an important battlefield on which the U.S. and its allies will engage.”


"Why Have Iran-Iraq Relations Become Tense"


Cao Yiqun opined in official popular Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (8/18):  "In regard to Iran-Iraq relations, the U.S. attitude is a sensitive factor.  All facts have proven that the Bush administration’s criticism against Iran is getting tougher and tougher, and that the U.S. is treating Iran as the top target for its war on terror.  What the Bush administration worries about most is that Iran is secretly researching nuclear weapons, which poses a threat to ‘the U.S. greater Middle East democracy initiative.’  The U.S. has deployed its military in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq as well, and a strategic siege against Iran has formed.  This has made Iran aware of the severity of its border situation.  To a certain extent, the development of Iran-Iraq relations basically represents changes in the U.S.’ Iran policy.”


CHINA (MACAU SAR):  "U.S. And Iran Have A Trial Of Strength Over Nuclear Issues"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (8/24):  "Debates between the U.S. and Iran over nuclear issues are getting heated.  The U.S. President's National Security Advisor Rice issued a tough warning to Iran on August 8.  She said that the U.S. would adopt all measures to stop Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.  Subsequently, U.S. Under Secretary of State Bolton told the media in Washington that Iran had told Britain, Germany and France that it could develop nuclear weapons within three years....  The media generally believes that Bush raises the issue of Iran just three month before the presidential election because he wants to use security issues to highlight his counter terrorism moves and to consolidate his position.  Besides, he uses Iranian issues to shift people's concerns and criticisms of U.S. failure in controlling the chaotic situation in Iraq to increase his chances of winning.  In dealing with Iranian issues, the Bush administration is at a crossroads.  Since the U.S. presidential election is approaching, the Bush administration can only press Iran to make public its nuclear plan and its nuclear facilities in accordance to the UN resolution, but it will not be able to come up with a formal Iran policy.  If Bush is reelected, he may attempt to overthrow the current Iranian regime in his next step."


VIETNAM:  "Pushing Too Hard, Reaching Breaking Point"


Hoang Son wrote in official Foreign Ministry-run weekly Quoc Te (8/27):  "Iran has stunned the world when it threw out a threat at both the U.S. and Israel at the same time....  That Iran publicly shifted from a defensive mode to take the initiative to make a threat is a big turning point in its confrontation with the U.S. regarding its nuclear program....  Probably, Iran's strong reaction has stemmed from the fear that there might be a pre-emptive attack by either the U.S. or Israel aimed at Bushehr nuclear site....  With its threat, Iran wants to remind the U.S. 'Don't push too hard, everything has a breaking point'....  This is difficult for Mr. Bush, he cannot adventurously order a punishing measure immediately because the presidential elections are coming.  Besides, Iran is not easy to beat to submission like Iraq."




CANADA:  "Iran And The Bomb"


The leading Globe and Mail maintained (8/26):  "Unless Iran takes meaningful steps to show its nuclear program is peaceful, the IAEA should refer the case to the UNSC and put Iran on notice that the world will not stand by as it develops nuclear weapons."


"Iran's Dangerous Game"


The nationalist Ottawa Citizen commented (8/23):  "By threatening to bomb both Israel and U.S. troops, Iran's mullahs are playing a dangerous game.  Such reckless belligerence may play well to Iran's domestic audience, but as other Middle Eastern dictatorships have learned, the blowback can be devastating....  Iran is looking for trouble. Maybe the mullahs, like so many Middle Eastern autocrats before them, are more bark than bite. But can the U.S., or Israel, take that chance? The mullahs should know that when you pretend to be armed and dangerous, someone is likely to shoot you."


"Iran's Brinkmanship..."


The leading Globe and Mail opined (8/20):  "Is Iran headed for war with the U.S. and Israel? Judging by recent news reports, one could be forgiven for thinking so. In the past several days, sabre-rattling, primarily from the Iranian side, has grown deafening....  The public war of words must be taken with a grain of salt. Many analysts believe an Osirak-style strike on Iran is a practical impossibility, both because the country's nuclear facilities are widely dispersed and because the U.S., which already has its hands full in Iraq, would oppose it. The last thing President Bush wants in an election year is a broader Mideast war. The U.S. stance so far has been one of pointedly diplomatic bellicosity....  That said, there is cause for concern. Last June, Iran reneged on a commitment to suspend its uranium enrichment program....  Clearly Iran is engaging in brinkmanship, almost certainly predicated on the assumption that the looming presidential election and the war in Iraq have tied the U.S.' hands.  The fact that the mullahs are probably bluffing--Iran would stand no chance in a military showdown with Israel, let alone the U.S.--does not make their posturing any less dangerous. For the U.S. election will be over in November, and Iraq is moving, albeit haltingly, toward greater democracy and stability. Saddam Hussein bluffed, allowing the world to believe he posed an imminent threat. He's now locked in a cell."


ARGENTINA:  "Iran Threatens To Attack The U.S."


Daily-of-record La Nacion stated (8/20):  "Uneasy due to the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel's atomic power, Iran warned--for the first time in history--that it's ready to launch preemptive attacks against its 'enemies' if it feels that its advanced nuclear program will targeted in an offensive.  The verbal challenge does away with a period of relative 'detente' between Tehran and Washington....  And this takes place following a week of insistent rumors of Israel's alleged plan to bomb the atomic plants of the Islamic Republic in an attempt to neutralize its advanced nuclear program....  It's the first time that Iran publicly mentions the possibility of taking the initiative before its adversaries. And, in an attempt to make this threat more credible, Iran's Defense Minister Chajmani explicitly described the risks run by both the U.S. and Israel....  If Chajmani reiterated yesterday the risks for the U.S. it's because, in the eyes of Iran's military, it's hard for Israelis to act on their own....  Tehran's threat follows insistent rumors across the Middle East last week on the possibility that Israel may be getting ready to bomb Iran's nuclear plants....  For their part, Israelis fear it may be too late and Iranians may already have a nuclear weapon."



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