November 23, 2004
IRAN: 'DEVILS APLENTY' IN THE DETAILS OF THE NUCLEAR AGREEMENT
** Iranian outlets label the nuclear pact with the EU "not desirable."
** Liberal global papers praise the EU's "significant victory" in its negotiations with Tehran.
** Centrist and conservative dailies greet the agreement "with skepticism."
Establishing 'Iran's right to peaceful nuclear activities'-- Iranian media had differing opinions regarding the nuclear deal with the EU to suspend Tehran's uranium enrichment programs. Moderate papers held that the "unavoidable" agreement proved "practicality...can be fruitful" in terms of foiling "pretexts that might have led to a military attack." Sharq claimed that it "prevented...a consensus between the U.S. and Europe," while E'temad praised the EU for sending "a diplomatic delegation instead of an army of war-mongers." Hard-line papers blasted the "illegitimate and illegal" accord as embarking on the "wrong path." Conservative Kayhan demanded that Tehran "immediately and unilaterally cancel the agreement in order to defend its national interests."
The agreement 'averted a dangerous crisis'-- Leftist dailies agreed the EU "must take satisfaction" in the agreement; one Arab observer stated that "Europe's diplomatic approach to the Iran crisis has paid off." Italy's L'Unita added that the "strategy of dialogue...proved to be productive." These papers judged diplomacy as the "only accessible path," because the "use of military force is out of the question"; as Japan's Asahi put it, "military means will not solve the nuclear crisis." Several observers contrasted Europe's strategy with the American model of "confrontation." They deemed "Tehran's latest goodwill gesture" a "success for European diplomacy" vis-a-vis the U.S.' "unyielding and mandatory stand," with Belgium's independent De Morgen concluding that Washington is "stupid to view the Mullahs as devils incarnate."
'An attempt to buy time'-- Wary observers doubted the "vague" agreement's value because "Tehran did not make any commitments" to suspend the enrichment of uranium on a permanent basis. Reflecting widespread distrust of their "uncooperative attitude," Canada's leading Globe and Mail said Iran's leaders just "bought themselves some time" with the pact, which allowed Iran to escape "possible censure and sanctions" from the UNSC. Questioning the EU's "naive...faith in the power of dialogue," skeptical dailies such as the Netherlands' influential NRC Handelsblad dismissed the pact as the "umpteenth paper tiger in a long series." These writers agreed that "Washington is right to demand deeds, not words." The national Australian advised that the "tougher approach of the U.S., which seeks sanctions against Tehran, should prevail" unless Iran pledges to allow unannounced IAEA inspections and "abandon its uranium enrichment activities--permanently."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORS: 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 52 reports from 19 countries over 15 - 23 November 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
IRAN: "New Horizons In Iranian Relations With The International Community"
Sergeh Barseqian wrote in reformist E'temad (11/17): "The announcement of Iran's agreement to suspend the enrichment of uranium has marked the end of a period of upheaval and the start of a process that in itself will change the direction of Iran's nuclear file.... Europe, America, the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] and the conservative faction in Iran have been the main players who from the start had adopted some clear stances.... Europe entered the field with the hope that it could score a big international goal in the field of diplomacy and to take away the initiative from the White House. The experience of having been deprived of taking the decision in the case of Iraq that resulted in a big rift between the U.S. and the EU over the Iraqi crisis had so undermined Europe's dignity and power.... This time the three big countries--Germany, Britain and France--decided to prevent another crisis, and to send a diplomatic delegation instead of an army of war-mongers.... However, America's stance is one of 'wait and see'. From the start, the U.S. was in favor of referring Iran's file to the UNSC... and opposed the use of the tool of continuous dialogue.... The agreement that has been reached would probably prevent the IAEA from referring the Iranian file to the UNSC.... What one can understand from the stances of some conservative factions in Iran is their criticism of the process of talks with the Europeans... as giving away some precious pearls and getting some candies in return.... In strategic talks we must speak as a strategic country and must make strategic demands."
"A Wrong Path"
Very conservative Jomhuri-ye Eslami maintained (11/17): "This agreement is the direct repercussion of the diversion from the natural trend of negotiations about Iran's nuclear program. None of the officials has yet explained why they selected such a wrong path in their negotiations, and instead of talking and cooperating with the IAEA, continued to negotiate with the European countries.... Believe that we are very simple-minded and the Europeans have understood this."
Reformist E'temad declared (11/17): "Iran's agreement to suspend uranium enrichment has two main achievements. First, it foils all Israel's pretexts that might have led to a military attack on Iran's nuclear sites. Secondly, Iran can make the Mojahedin e Khalq Organization equal to the Al-Qaida terrorist group."
"Compromise Leads To Fruitful Outcomes"
Reformist Sharq noted (11/17): "The combination of the elements in the nuclear negotiations in Paris proves that the blending of the reformists' legitimacy and the conservatives' power leads to practicality that can be fruitful not only in foreign policies but also in domestic affairs. Legitimacy without power is not fruitful; neither the reformists nor the conservatives could have managed these [nuclear] negotiations on their own."
"Back To Square One Eventually"
Pro-Khatami Mardom-Salari averred (11/17): "Even if the negotiations between Iran and the three European countries come to an end, the European countries are reluctant to tolerate Iran's nuclear fuel cycle technology. The result of [the recent] nuclear agreement is that after several years of uranium enrichment suspension and missed opportunities, Iran will come back to square one."
Reformist Aftab-e-Yazd concluded (11/17): "A decision has been made over Iran's nuclear dossier, which-although not ideal for Iran--is unavoidable. Therefore, instead of sending dangerous messages to the European countries and undermining the Supreme National Security Council by means of stinging stances, it is better to find strategies and solutions that can decrease the repercussions of the agreement."
The moderate, pro-reform English-language Iran Daily argued (11/17): "The recent ceremony marking the country's self-sufficiency in wheat production and the weekend agreement with Europe's big three over Iran's nuclear activities may be two entirely different issues, but both convey auspicious messages. The first comes from the basics in economic development while the second is the product of hard work, selfless efforts and the dedication of our scientists and diplomats. All things considered, it seems the Islamic system has moved forward and acquired new levels of national might and grandeur."
"Full Of Emptiness"
Conservative Kayhan held (11/16): "This package [of the recent Iran-EU nuclear agreement] is full of emptiness. Despite the negotiators' stances, the words of the agreement have been selected in a way that Iran is not allowed to resume uranium enrichment until the end of negotiations, which is itself open-ended. We suggest that Iran immediately and unilaterally cancel the agreement in order to defend its national interests."
"Nuclear Negotiations, Floating Pearl And Sweet Water"
Reformist Aftab-e-Yazd commented (11/16): "Iranians have the very right to know the details of the current and the earlier agreements between Iran and the European countries. Perhaps the most recent agreement was the best possible but the negotiators should explain to the people what had weakened Iran's position in the nuclear negotiations."
"Illegitimate And Illegal"
Conservative Kayhan had this view (11/16): "This is undoubtedly an unlimited suspension of uranium enrichment. It is exactly the same illegitimate and illegal demand from European countries which Iran had previously clearly rejected."
"Don't Be Afraid"
Very conservative Jomhuri-ye Eslami opined (11/16): "What Iran has agreed to is the cessation of uranium enrichment under the name of a long-term and a full-scale suspension. No one can offer this right to foreigners before it is ratified in the Majlis [parliament]. If Iranian negotiators think that Iran's dossier won't be sent to the UNSC, they should know that first, there is nothing to guarantee this. But secondly, we shouldn't be afraid of it."
Reformist Sharq held (11/16): "At least the agreement, though not desirable, has prevented the emergence of a consensus between the U.S. and Europe against Iran's nuclear technology.
"Establishing Our Rights"
The moderate, pro-reform English-language Iran Daily remarked (11/16): "The EU big three ultimately accepted our right to use nuclear technology for civilian use. The key point in the latest agreement is that Iran's right to peaceful nuclear activities has been established."
Conservative Khorasan held (11/16): "No major changes have been made in Iran's nuclear dossier. However Iranians had expected to obtain more than what we have got."
INDIA: "Pause For Thought"
The nationalist Hindustan Times declared (11/23): "Iran's decision to suspend its uranium enrichment program eases the pressure on all players in the mind games being played out in the region.... The Bush government 's express reason for leaning on Teheran probably has to do with new intelligence that warns of Iran's nuclear energy agency producing significant quantities of uranium hexafluoride (a gas that can be enriched for use in atomic weapons.... Washington has a point when it says that Iran had hidden its enrichment program for years, and owned up only when the A.Q. Khan network was busted. Though Teheran may be right in insisting that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it can enrich uranium for producing nuclear power, there are some questions about its desire to live up to the spirit of the treaty which explicitly commits signatories not to make nuclear weapons. With the Saddam regime gone, there is no immediate security threat for Iran, though there is a case for Washington doing more to reassure the mullahs that it is not about to do an Iraq on Iran."
PAKISTAN: "Iran's Right Move"
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn opined (11/19): "Iran has done well by agreeing to a suspension of its uranium enrichment program. The move comes in the wake of a qualified declaration by the IAEA that Iran was not trying to manufacture nuclear weapons. The decision gives several advantages to Iran. First, the suspension has put Britain, France and Germany on the defensive. The European three now have no reason to complain of non-cooperation by Iran on the nuclear issue.... Tehran has accepted the suspension 'as a voluntary step' and the decision does not impose any obligations on it.... However, the American obsession with Iran, fuelled no doubt by Israel's own view of the revolutionary regime, perpetuates a crisis that otherwise is on the point of ending. Israel has also threatened more than once to attack Iran's nuclear installations, prompting Tehran to say that it would hit back. What Washington should do now is to let Iran and the European three finally sort out the issue to the satisfaction of both. Israeli-American pressure tactics will only worsen matters and perhaps delay the signing of the Iran-EU agreement."
GERMANY: "Matter Of Faith"
Peter Sturm argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/23): "If there is progress in the fight against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, then we must welcome this. But we cannot certainly say whether this progress exists, even though Iran announced that the country has suspended the enrichment of uranium. First of all the question must be raised whether we believe in the words of the Iranian government. But more important is the question of what this means? Can the country really be prevented from arming itself with nuclear weapons?.... With this announcement, the government in Tehran has probably prevented sanctions. The problem, however, has by no means be resolved. Iran will not allow the international community to tell it what it has to do. And the Mullahs say the entire program only serves civil purposes. But they have not said why the world should believe this. Vigilance is necessary and if Iran does not want to integrate, it must live with the consequences."
"Nuclear Interim Solution"
Ewald Stein maintained in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (11/23): "Iran's announcement that it has suspended its uranium enrichment plans does not come as a surprise. But the message gets its relevance from the fact that IAEA head El Baradei did not hesitate to believe in the message.... For the EU, the message from Tehran means a partial success...and the satisfaction must be all the greater since President Bush described the negotiations of EU envoys as efforts he thinks highly of.... Of course, the reports from Tehran are not based on sheer altruism. Shrewdness is a better term to describe them, since Iran continues to refuse to tear to pieces its nuclear plans.... Nevertheless, it is progress. And with this move--and this is by no means the inept calculation of the mullahs--Iran can hope to score points at the IAEA governors meeting on Thursday.... The only weapon that would cut Iran to the quick would be an comprehensive oil embargo. But in view of high oil prices, the global economy cannot afford this.... But the government in Tehran should not draw the wrong conclusions. What it has done now is at best a first step. The previous strategy to describe military nuclear ambitions as a fairy tale cannot come true in the long run. Not only El Baradei but also his predecessor Blix and the EU have confirmed the right to Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. This allows the NPT, which Iran also signed. But this treaty also obliges the signatories to accept its verification regime. And in this respect, Iran has a pent-up demand. To deny IAEA inspectors the right to inspect Iranian facilities is a breach of contract.... The mullahs could now give an answer by suspending a law that was recently adopted in the Iranian parliament and provides for the resumption of the enrichment of uranium."
"The Process Is The Goal"
Clemens Wergin argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (11/17): "At first inspection, it looked like a European diplomatic triumph.... But the problem is that it is not a final agreement. Iran did not make any commitments to suspend the enrichment of uranium on a permanent basis.... It is the same language Iran used in the agreement it concluded last year with the three European governments. And we know today how serious Iran was about it. But the mullahs achieved their most important goal: the case will not be transferred to the UNSC.... The preliminary character of the agreement makes clear one thing: Tehran did not make a strategic decision to give up its plan to build the bomb and to decisively improve its relationship with the West. It is very questionable whether the talks that will begin in December will urge the mullahs to accept western demands.... If the Europeans did not succeed even with the support of great pressure in urging Iran to definitely give up its enrichment plans, of what use will the upcoming talks be if Tehran need not fear any immediate consequences?.... The Europeans did not succeed in leading Iran astray from its policy. There is even more: for the time being, they have taken away pressure on Iran. By doing this, they are exposing themselves to the suspicion of pining their hopes on processes than on real results. The case of Iran continues to be pending. But how long can the West still wait?"
"Hoped-For Ice Age"
Stefan Ulrich contended in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/16): "It sounds like a triumph for the European troika.... What the Americans failed to achieve with bombs in Iraq seems to be successful for the Europeans with words in Iran: to defuse an international large-scale conflict with a trouble spot, usually called 'rogue state.' But the time for the release of white smoke has not yet come. The West was often wrong and was deceived too often by Iran.... This time, the Iranians safeguarded their concessions with a number of accompanying maneuvers, which could quickly turn out to be disruptive. We heard from Tehran that the renunciation of the enrichment of uranium was a voluntary, non-committal, and temporary measure. This statement alone shows that the regime was only interested in avoiding interference by the UN Security Council--and sanctions. A change of mind has not yet taken place.... That is why the Europeans must adjust to the fact that the struggle with Tehran will continue for a long time to come.... Washington should now take advantage of the time won to review its relationship with Iran. Only if the regime can feel safe and can hope for satisfying relations with the West, will its strategic drive for the bomb ebb. Iran's national pride can also be appeased if the same rights are valid for all in the future. This means that the Non-Proliferation Treaty must be reformed to such an extent that nations will not get the authority to enrich uranium on their own. Then the Mullahs could not say: we only want what others are allowed to do. The reference to Iran as a 'rogue state' will not lead to anything."
"The Next, Please!"
Roland Heine wrote in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (11/16): "Even if the end of the process of détente turned into a settlement of the conflict, the Bush administration has already laid out further levers against Tehran. Iran is not only accused of supporting international terrorism, Washington also claims that the country has large stockpiles of chemical weapons and does research on biological weapons programs. The United States, however, has not yet presented any evidence, but since Tehran has signed an agreement on the ban of those kinds of weapons, it would easy to open a new propaganda campaign if the time comes. We can and could study in Iraq where this leads to and how this works."
"Rapprochement With Tehran"
Karl Grobe judged in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/16): "The three Europeans have averted a dangerous crisis with the agreement from Sunday. And in an inconspicuous way, Moscow contributed to it by taking back used fuel elements from the...reactor in Busheer. The suspicion that Iranian nuclear technicians could use fuel elements to extract weapons-grade material is now obsolete. But distrust has not disappeared. The United States has not deleted Iran from its list of the 'axis of evil.' The mullah regime will continue to be on the U.S. list of 'rogue states.'... But Tehran must not fear a pre-emptive war as it is laid down in Bush's security doctrine. The United States has got entangled in Iraq to such a degree that it would be unable to wage such a war right now.... But Tehran's leaders...have not always stuck to treaties that dealt with nuclear matters.... That is why its declarations that everything only serves the civilian generation of energy cannot get the necessary degree of credibility. And if, in the presidential elections next year, the extremist conservative wing were to win, deep skepticism would be necessary. If confidence does not exist, comprehensive controls are necessary. Only if it can be guaranteed can the European negotiating success be described as a breakthrough. And only if the Bushies fully support this agreement, will peace become safer."
"Playing For Time"
Right-of-center business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf opined (11/16): "Successful news from Tehran must always be taken with a grain of salt.... But this is too little to settle the crisis over Iran's nuclear program. The United States in particular is probably not satisfied with declarations of intent. But the Iranian move could be enough to prevent the conflict from being discussed at the UN Security Council.... Since no one has a panacea, all sides involved are playing for time. This need not be the worst tactic. Every day in which Iran does not resume its enrichment of uranium must be considered progress. And every single day in which Europe negotiates will increase chances for a peaceful solution. Maybe in the end, the confidence will develop which will be the basis for a lasting success in the Middle East."
ITALY: "Bush: I Want Evidence On Iran"
Mario Platero noted in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (11/23): "'Trust but verify' is what Ronald Reagan used to say talking about the USSR's nuclear disarmament.... Yesterday, George W. Bush revived the concept and applied it to Iran, which the U.S. suspects of wanting to build nuclear weapons. The President asked that Teheran provide evidence that it has suspended its enriched uranium programs and show that it no longer has ambitions to build a nuclear bomb.... Some perceive the U.S.-Iran verbal escalation as similar to the model used for Iraq, which could have led to war. But a war against Iran, a country with 70 million people, is currently inconceivable. The U.S. is aware of that, and so are the Iranians and the European countries that have to mediate. However, targeted bombings on specific objectives is not inconceivable, should inspections fail to produce desired results. In addition, the U.S. would like the Iranian case brought to the U.N. in order to impose sanctions. But the IAEA will soon begin its mission and, should the results be satisfactory, the idea of imposing sanctions would be implausible."
"Powell, After Baghdad, Here Is Teheran"
Stefano Trincia wrote in Rome-based centrist Il Messaggero (11/19): “The White House is currently focusing on Iran. Outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell opened this issue in Santiago, Chile, where he is attending the Asian-Pacific summit, by denouncing the Ayatollahs’ nuclear ambitions.... Powell’s unusual openness caused concern both in Washington and Europe for several reasons. First of all, there is the Iraqi precedent where U.S. intelligence as well as Powell himself lost credibility.... A second perplexing factor is Bush’s second term foreign policy agenda.... Bush’s policy will become even more aggressive.... The ‘hawks’ of the Bush administration have long exerted pressure to settle accounts with Teheran.... And...should Teheran persist [on the nuclear issue], the White House will ask for economic sanctions against Iran, the first step towards decisively stronger measures, if needed.”
"The Ayatollahs’ Nuclear Program"
Leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore noted (11/16): “Thanks to the agreement...Iran’s nuclear program will not set off the next international crisis.... The agreement still needs some work: the U.S. will not give up easily, but this is a promising starting point--a success for European diplomacy in the Middle Eastern region which is largely dominated by U.S. presence. It’s also an encouraging sign for EU unity because it was the result of a common effort by three countries that were divided over Iraq.... We must not forget one thing: U.S. pressures and the threat to take the case to the UN...caused the EU to take action and also caused the Iranians to reflect. We must take satisfaction in this success, but without being too triumphant.”
"Nuclear Program, Teheran Says 'Yes' to Europe"
Gabriel Bertinetto commented in pro-democratic left L’Unità (11/15): “Teheran has once again avoided UNSC examination of its nuclear program. It has given in to pressure exerted by the European troika (France, Germany, Great Britain) and suspended its uranium enrichment program.... Once again the strategy of dialogue chosen by Paris, Berlin and London proved to be productive and kept Iran from reacting to the U.S. position, which is unyielding and mandatory, by clamming up and adopting an even more rigid position.”
RUSSIA: "Powell's Nuclear Legacy"
Andrey Zlobin said in reformist Vremya Novostey (11/19): "The U.S. is sure that Iran, aside from working on nuclear weapons, has been busy to develop delivery means for them. That follows from a statement by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was talking to journalists on his way to an APEC summit in Chile yesterday. His words drew a lot of attention. Indeed, as things were going in the past few days, there was hope for an early solution to the Iran nuclear program crisis. Late last week the EU's Troika--Britain, France and Germany--talked Tehran into suspending its uranium enrichment operation. Powell's statement yesterday brings back to mind the memory of him appearing at the UN Headquarters in February of 2003 to prove that war against Iraq was necessary. He referred to U.S. intelligence reports on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, with part of that information supplied by the Iraqi opposition. It was all a bluff. Later Powell had to admit that and eat crow. Colin Powell is in his last weeks as Secretary of State, ready to make way for 'iron' Condoleezza Rice. Yesterday's statement on Iran's nuclear weapons must be a tip as to what the chief vector of the United States' foreign policy is going to be after he quits."
"It's Not Over Yet"
Andrey Terekhov noted in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (11/16): "Experts say that the Iran-Europe deal may result in greater competition in the Iranian market, with the Europeans prevailing.... This is not the end of the story, however. The Iranians point out that the embargo on uranium enrichment is temporary and will remain in place until they make a package deal with the Europeans providing for long-term cooperation."
"Iran To Get Nuclear Fuel From Russia"
Andrey Zlobin wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey (11/16): "Iran has agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program.... Russia will profit economically from this breakthrough. Now we can proceed with the construction of the Bushehr project and possibly start new ones in Iran, without fearing political complications, said a source in Russia's atomic energy agency."
Maarten Rabaey maintained in independent De Morgen (11/19): "Through departing Secretary of State Colin Powell, the U.S. claimed yesterday that it has intelligence that Iran is modifying missiles so that they can carry nuclear loads. According to the Americans that is new evidence that Tehran has plans to become a military nuclear power.... The allegations came only three days after Iran concluded an agreement with three European countries: Great Britain, France and Germany.... Tehran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program as of November 22. Diplomats view that concession as a major breakthrough. The UN’s IAEA also welcomes that decision. Whose strategy will yield results: the American confrontation model or Europe’s dialogue? As always, the truth will probably lie in the middle. It would be an illusion to think that Iran, in exchange for the agreement with the European triumvirate and the subsequent economic perks, is willing to burry its regional military ambitions. But, it is equally stupid to view the Mullahs as devils incarnate who are ready to attack Israel and the West--as the Americans do at this moment.... The reality is that Iran is becoming a giant on clay feet. It is a Shiite country in a region that is weak politically, economically and socially. The American field marshals’ imperial arrogance will boost the disintegration process--rather than weaken it. Strategists like Colin Powell know that. Washington hopes that the implosion will continue. Its oil companies are ready to exploit the situation. Perhaps, the Americans would have achieved much more already - if they had had some merchant talent.”
DENMARK: "Middle Way Required To Resolve Iranian Nuclear Crisis"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende judged (11/21): The international community, including the U.S. must lead the way in order to find a solution to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear aspirations.... We must know exactly what the Iranians are up to. The regime must be put under increasing pressure [to be open and honest about its nuclear program]. While the U.S. can be criticized for its willingness to rush in, the EU appears somewhat naïve in its faith in the power of dialogue. The U.S. and Europe must find a middle way regarding Iran.”
"Subdued U.S. Reaction To EU Victory Over Iranian Nuclear Policy"
Center-left Politiken editorialized (11/16): "The EU has recorded a significant victory with regard to Iran’s nuclear program. So far, the reactions have been muted from the U.S. The U.S. is waiting to briefed by European friends on the issue, but in reality, the U.S. has a choice: It can either accept the agreement or isolate itself diplomatically with regard to the topic of Iranian use of nuclear technology. Nonetheless, we are still to see whether Iran can live up to the terms of the agreement or whether it has military plans hidden in the cupboard.”
FINLAND: "Iraq Demonstrated Willingness To Cooperate"
Sture Gadd wrote in Swedish-language left-of-center Hufvudstadsbladet (11/17): "On Sunday, Iran promised to stop enriching uranium, at least temporarily. The announcement came in a letter to the UN, and is the outcome of negotiations with the EU. The decision is good news and probably means that the UN will not impose sanctions on Iran. But will the decision satisfy the U.S.? The U.S. has repeatedly claimed that the Iranian uranium enrichment program could lead to that country making nuclear weapons. Iran has claimed that it wants to produce atomic energy for peaceful means. The U.S. believes that the Iranian Government supports terrorists and does not want to give that country the slightest possibility to acquire nuclear weapons. Bush has labeled Iran one of the powers belonging to the axis of evil.... On Sunday, Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the world that the U.S. has no plans to replace the regime in Iran--even though it disapproves of it. You can only hope that President Bush sees the matter in the same way. One unpleasant possibility is that the U.S. will decide to bomb the Iranian atomic laboratories.... That would increase tensions in the entire region, aggravate the problem in Iraq, and provoke more terrorism. Iran's retreat should make it possible to avoid that kind of thing. The UNSC should discuss the problem based on a new report that also takes the Iranian decision into account. The EU is satisfied with Iran's decision, and the UN should dare to be so as well. If there is no concrete threat from Iraq, the U.S. too will have every reason to lie low and not create itself a new enemy unnecessarily."
NETHERLANDS: "No Commitment"
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad said (11/17): "EU foreign affairs coordinator Javier Solana rightly so said the nuclear accord between Iran and Germany, France and the UK is only a beginning. For the agreement does not include more than a temporary postponement of Iran's uranium enrichment program. There is no stick behind the door. It is a political agreement based on voluntary cooperation. For Iran this means that the country does not have to abide by anything and Tehran could resume its nuclear activities tomorrow if it wanted to. This accord is still better than no accord but Solana is right in saying that the real work has yet to begin.... In short, if we stick to having this German-French-British accord with Iran, then there is nothing. It would be the umpteenth paper tiger in a long series. It should be appreciated that Europe went ahead and started negotiations with Iran by itself. There are mutual political and economic interests to defend. But the pressure must be kept on. An accord with no commitment will make Tehran laugh its head off."
SPAIN: "Iran Gives In"
Left-of-center El País editorialized (11/16): "The agreement between the EU and Iran must be observed with caution, not only for Tehran's course, but because [uranium] enrichment is going to be stopped just two days before the IAEA meeting in Vienna.... Still unknown is the U.S., which, though it has encouraged the mediation, is deeply skeptical about Iran's intentions. Washington has reiterated that an acceptable commitment will only be one that resolves the dispute and not one that lets Tehran escape from the Security Council."
SWEDEN: "Iranian Nuclear Weapons -- A Challenge To The World"
Independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter of Stockholm observed (11/16): “The Iranian promise to halt its enrichment of uranium proved to be short-lived. Its nuclear program will only be mothballed during the negotiations with the EU, and during that time Iran will not be subject to sanctions. This is an alarming message from a regime that few have confidence in.... The question of Iran’s nuclear aspirations is one of the most serious challenges that the world has to face in the near future. A frightening arms race may start in an already unstable region.... The main problem is that, with regards to Iran, alternatives are few. Use of military force is out of the question.... Diplomacy seems to be the only accessible path, but it is slow with uncertain results."
ISRAEL: "H-Hour Has Arrived"
Caroline B. Glick noted in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (11/19): "The prevailing wisdom in Washington these days seems to be that the U.S. is waiting for an Israeli attack on Iran. There is some logic to such a policy. No doubt, the Arabs and the Iranians will all blame America anyway, but they are not America's chief concern here. Britain and Germany are. What the U.S. needs is plausible deniability regarding an Israeli strike vis-a-vis Britain and Germany, in order to get itself out of the trap that Paris has set for it. An Israeli strike against the Iranian nuclear program will leave Germany in an uncomfortable public position. Berlin cannot condemn the Jews for doing what we can to prevent another Holocaust without losing whatever crumbs of moral credibility it has built up over the past 50 years. As for Britain, if Israel were to conduct the attack on its own, the British would be hard-pressed to abandon the Americans; thus, the danger that British involvement with the Paris-based multipolarists on Iran will breach the Anglo-American alliance could be somewhat mitigated. On the other hand, if the Bush administration does not accept Israeli reasoning, the fact will still remain: Israel cannot accept a nuclear Iran."
"Not Sure Whether They've Lost"
Security affairs commentator Ronen Bergman opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (11/15): "In the next couple of months, we'll see many European diplomats waving what happened Sunday as tangible evidence of the victory of their policy of dialogue with Iran.... Ostensibly, they're right.... But after Iran reached the conclusion that the U.S. has no option of attacking her, Western intelligence elements discovered that [Iran] has resumed activity [at its nuclear facilities].... Iranians feared sanctions and yielded. It is unclear at this time what they still hide; anyway, the commitment they gave the Europeans is so vague that it mostly buys them time, which will allow Tehran's revolutionary regime to procure the ultimate weapon."
UAE: "Test For Teheran"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Khaleej Times declared (11/22): "And you thought the crisis over Iran was over. If vibes from Washington are anything to go by, things are only heating up now. Even as Iran and Europe congratulated each other last week on clinching a deal on shelving Iran’s nuclear programme, Washington hawks prepared for an Iranian adventure. The EU celebration has been shadowed by the US accusations against Iran.... Pentagon hawks are openly talking of military action against Iran.... No wonder, Europe, particularly the so-called Big Three, Britain, France and Germany--are deeply uneasy. The flexing of muscles in Washington has come when the UN watchdog, IAEA, is due to meet on Thursday to decide whether to refer Iran to the UNSC for being in breach of non-proliferation measures. Signs are ominous. This is developing dangerously into a crisis of Iraqi proportions. All sides involved must therefore exercise great caution and restraint. Europe’s diplomatic approach to the Iran crisis has paid off so far. Therefore, the UN and US would do well to allow Europe to pursue the Iran issue to its logical conclusion through diplomatic engagement.... Iran must exercise greater restraint and...not provide any opportunity for the neocon hawks to exploit the crisis.... Now it depends on how Teheran chooses to conclude this episode: By cooperating fully with the IAEA and Europe, in which case it has a chance to come out of the crisis unscathed; or by opting to persist with its nuclear ambitions. The second option, which is certain to invite the wrath of Washington, would be most unfortunate.... By settling for the second option, Iran would be falling into the trap of Pentagon hawks.... Such a misadventure would lead to further destabilisation of the region, already battling the effects of long-running conflicts. Yet another tragedy in the Middle East is in nobody’s interest."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Iran Feels The Nuclear Heat"
The national conservative Australian took this view (11/16): “In a rare display of reason by Iran's ruling theocrats, the fundamentalist state has offered to suspend its nuclear weapons activities.... Certainly, Iran's offer to stop producing the materials that can lead to subsequent uranium enrichment is a positive step, and comes in exchange for EU concessions on trade and the provision of nuclear energy technology. Unfortunately, an identical deal 13 months ago was quickly welshed on by Tehran. And there are devils aplenty in the new offer's details, including hedge-words such as 'temporarily.' Unless Iran agrees to abandon its uranium enrichment activities--permanently--and allow unannounced inspections by the IAEA, the tougher approach of the U.S., which seeks sanctions against Tehran, should prevail."
CHINA: "Why The U.S. Can’t Compromise With Iran"
Tang Baocai and Liu Aicheng commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (11/22): "There are various reasons why the U.S. is so tough toward Iran: first, the U.S. considers Iran as the biggest obstacle to its Middle East strategy.... Second, the U.S. thinks Iran’s plan to develop nuclear weapons is a potential threat to the U.S. and its War on Terror.... Third, the U.S. considers Iran the biggest impediment to its Greater Middle East plan.... Fourth, the U.S. worries that Iranian Shiites may influence the Iraq situation.... Moreover, oil is another factor for the U.S. Middle East experts think that continuing War on Terror and promoting the Greater Middle East plan are the U.S. Government’s diplomatic priorities for the next four years.... The Iranian nuclear issue will become the prime challenge for the Bush administration.... Right now it is noteworthy that the White House and Congress' hawks have started to bolster the Iran issue...spreading words about ‘regime change’ in Tehran by military or economic means. But the EU thinks that while the U.S. can’t get out of the Iraq mire it won’t choose military means to solve the Iran problem.”
"At The Point Of Swords Clashing, A Feint: The Iran Nuclear Issue"
Chen Yiming commented in the official People's Daily (Renmin Ribao) (11/16): “The IAEA council passed a resolution on September 18.... Analysts point out that the resolution adopted the advice of EU countries, not to include the ‘trigger mechanism’ that the U.S. expected. But Iran must make a compromise before November 25.... But...after the talks in Paris, things appear to have taken a favorable turn.... Observers think that one can see that Iran’s major compromise on the nuclear issue is an important decision at a critical time.... The media thinks the reason that Iran changed its long-held tough stance relates to Bush’s victory in the U.S. election. After his reelection, Bush immediately mounted the military attack against Falluja, showing his consistent toughness. This makes people believe all the more that, once the Iraq situation is stable, Iran will become the next target of the U.S. Hawks.”
"Thaw In Sight Over Iranian Nuclear Issue"
Fang Zhou commented in the official English-language newspaper China Daily (11/16): “In a written statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Sunday, Iran announced it would suspend 'nearly all' of its uranium enrichment-related activities.... The announcement, made during follow-up talks with the EU's 'Big Three' of France, Germany and Britain, which started on Saturday, was Teheran's latest goodwill gesture towards its controversial nuclear program following a provisional agreement with them last weekend.... Iran's latest announcement has basically satisfied the demands of the IAEA and the EU.... Thus, it will resolve a long-standing concern among the international community that the country's nuclear program will be submitted to the UNSC, which would most likely lead UN sanctions against Iran.... The United States has for a long time pushed for the settlement of the nuclear issue in the UNSC.... The latest announcement by Iran has undoubtedly further reduced some countries' misgivings towards Teheran's repeated stance that it has no intentions of developing nuclear programs for non-civilian purposes.... It has also clearly shown that the international community's efforts to peacefully solve Iran's nuclear program are paying off.... Hopefully, this step will herald a bright future.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Hope Shines Through Iran's Nuclear Cloud"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (11/16): "Iran's agreement to suspend its uranium enrichment activities suggests that dialogue and diplomacy can help in dealing with nuclear crises. But the deal the Iranian government has struck with three European nations is tentative and temporary. Iran's longer-term intentions remain unclear. So it would be premature to declare the negotiations a success.... The worry is that Iran might be using the agreement merely as a short-term tactic to stall the UN. It has been careful to point out that the arrangement is not legally binding and will last only while further negotiations take place to hammer out the details. It would be easy for the Iranians to renege on the deal.... Suspicions will remain that Iran has no intention of giving up what the U.S. insists is a secret weapons program. In contrast, Iran has always stressed that its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful. The danger is that a cat-and-mouse game, involving UN inspectors, will now develop--similar to that which preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has dismissed suggestions that the Bush administration has plans for regime change in Iran. But he clearly feels he needed to make such a denial, underlining the risks involved. Care must be taken to ensure Iran meets its obligations. But to press ahead with sanctions would be a mistake. The deal provides a glimmer of hope--it should be given a chance."
JAPAN: "Iran Strikes Another Nuclear Deal"
The liberal English-language Japan Times held (11/18): "Iran has agreed to suspend its nuclear programs while it continues negotiations with European nations.... This is the second deal the parties have signed; the speed with which the first came apart is grounds for concern.... Iran has not agreed to end its nuclear program, merely to suspend it. The final outcome will show how serious the world is about halting the spread of nuclear weapons.... Last October, Britain, France and Germany tried to head off a crisis and negotiated a deal that would suspend Iran's nuclear programs. The agreement allowed Iran to avoid official censure by the IAEA--which was being pushed by the U.S.--and would have obliged the UNSC to take up the matter. That deal quickly unraveled.... The key question is, if Tehran wants nuclear weapons can the world dissuade it? The European three are determined to test that proposition.... Tehran may well feel that nuclear weapons are needed for national security. The rest of the world must convince Iran that its security is best assured by means other than nuclear weapons. The second component is economic. Europe must offer Iran trade incentives sufficient to offset the gains--material or otherwise--to be had from developing a nuclear program.... A deal with Tehran would prove that diplomatic engagement works and could provide a model for talks with North Korea. Failure will force the UN...to take up the issue and test its very commitment to the NPT and nuclear nonproliferation."
"Step Toward Diplomatic Settlement"
Liberal Asahi concluded (11/16): "The latest agreement between Britain, Germany and France and Iran may be a breakthrough in dealing with suspicions about Tehran's nuclear program..... Iran must not use this accord to buy time. It must abide by the agreement and ensure that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes. In striking the agreement, Iran said the suspension of uranium enrichment would be temporary, but it is freezing its nuclear processing for an extended period in order to regain the confidence of the international community.... Military means will not solve the nuclear crisis. A U.S. attack on Iran would throw the Middle East further into chaos and cause oil prices to skyrocket. However, the possible interest by some nations in using force to stop nuclear proliferation could pose a risk to the current nonproliferation regime. There is no other way to urge Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions than by offering it technical assistance to ensure its peaceful use of nuclear power. The international community must also urge the U.S. to exercise self-restraint."
"Complete Settlement A Long Way Off"
Conservative Sankei held (11/16): "The recent agreement is not enough to fully settle the issue of Iran's nuclear development, because Tehran has merely said it would temporarily freeze its uranium enrichment program under the accord.... Iran must rectify its uncooperative attitude toward IAEA inspections and take the necessary measures to prove its nuclear programs are purely for power generation. Otherwise, the international community will see Iran's response as an attempt to buy time in order to develop nuclear arms."
"Suspicions Must Be Eradicated"
Liberal Mainichi argued (11/16): "Iran has agreed with European powers to temporarily suspend its nuclear enrichment program. We welcome the move as a step toward a peaceful settlement of Iran's nuclear development. But, a final settlement must be worked out in order to eradicate any suspicion about Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The latest agreement brings to mind the 1994 Agreed Framework between the U.S. and North Korea, under which Washington pledged the provision of light-water nuclear reactors. In the event of offering Tehran light-water reactors, careful and detailed planning must be made in order to prevent Iran from mimicking Pyongyang's nuclear backtracking."
THAILAND: "Real Deal Still A Long Way Off"
The lead editorial in the top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (11/21): "An announcement last week by EU members France, Britain and Germany of an agreement with Iran to temporarily stop efforts to enrichment uranium was a welcome development, but any lasting settlement regarding Iran's nuclear program will almost surely have to directly involve the U.S.... Washington has taken a hardline against negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue, but has given some tentative signals that it would not oppose the latest EU negotiations. Outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed a very cautious optimism. But Powell's successor, Condoleeza Rice, is known to be if anything more distrustful of any initiatives coming out of Iran than the departing general.... The U.S. can still use a combination of pressure and persuasion to achieve its ends of course, but its biggest asset may be the strong desire of Iran to join the WTO. The U.S. has blocked the admission and will likely continue to block it until it gets exactly the kind of assurances and verifications it wants. It might be wiser, however, to allow the way to be cleared for Iran to join the WTO. The threat of taking away a WTO membership which has already been granted may be more effective in producing a compromising attitude in Tehran than promises which may never materialize.”
CANADA: "The Ayatollah's Bomb"
Serge Truffaut concluded in liberal French-language Le Devoir (11/19): "The information related to Iran's nuclear ambition is as worrisome as it is contradictory.... Germany...France...and Great-Britain estimate that the agreement signed recently 'opens the door to re-establishing trust'.... No more. In Washington, where the evolution of the case is followed meticulously, it is felt that Iran must give further proof of its good will than that put on the table until now. Indeed, in the American capital, it is firmly believed that the ends of the Iranian program are anything but civil. In short, that Teheran wants to build its bomb at any cost.... One thing is certain, the geographical conception of the Iranian program is such that if one or two sites within its infrastructure were destroyed, it could quickly be rebuilt. In short, the haziness surrounding the case does not hide one reality: Iran wants its bomb."
"Iran's Nuclear Pause"
The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (11/16): "Just when it seemed Iran might finally be punished for its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities, the country's ruling theocrats have agreed to suspend their uranium enrichment program. Any move that reduces the threat of nuclear proliferation and lowers the risk of another Middle East war is welcome. But Iran's last-minute change of heart on the eve of a potentially damning report on its nuclear activities must be greeted with skepticism.... So the mullahs, who directly control Iraq's nuclear program as well as all weapons development, have bought themselves some time and escaped possible censure and sanctions for violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They have managed this feat without offering any assurances that they will abandon their nuclear ambitions. Indeed, senior Iranian officials emphasized that Tehran had no legal obligation to accept the three EU countries' conditions.... Washington has greeted the report and Tehran's decision to suspend uranium enrichment with justifiable caution. U.S. officials once thought they had a binding nuclear deal with North Korea, only to learn otherwise. In Iran's case, Washington is right to demand deeds, not words. And to keep pressing for a permanent ban."
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