February 25, 2005
U.S. RHETORIC SOFTENS BUT MANY SEE IRAN AS 'NEXT TARGET'
** Euro papers see Iran as a "test case for transatlantic relations."
** Outlets contend the U.S. is "quietly hoping" diplomacy fails.
** Non-Western papers insist the nuclear issue is an "excuse" to overthrow the regime.
Iran's nuclear plans may 'poison' transatlantic relations-- Spain's left-of-center El Pais expressed concern that the "new and warmer transatlantic breeze" will not evaporate the "deep differences on Iran." An Italian writer declared Iran's nuclear ambitions to be a "thorn in the side of U.S.-EU relations" and that while the U.S. and the EU desire a similar outcome, the "problem is that the means used to reach the objective are quite different." Globally, Russia's business oriented Kommersant described the world as "vacillating between a harsh Bush type option and its milder European alternative." Even as editorials praised "Washington's repeated assurance it has no actual war plans," Germany's Financial Times Deutschland articulated "latent worries" about U.S. intentions. Supporters of negotiations praised U.S. talk of a diplomatic solution, but most Euro outlets remained convinced "the U.S. president will never take the threat of force off the table."
Bush statements 'prove...aggressive plans'-- Various commentators maintained the U.S. would prefer that diplomatic efforts failed. Alongside other outlets, Indonesia's independent Jawa Pos averred that the U.S. is "set to launch military actions any time...even in the absence of support from European countries." A Chinese writer asserted that short of war, the U.S. is "quietly hoping" that negotiations between the EU and Iran fail "in order to bring Iran before the United Nations as soon as possible." Pakistan's populist Khabrain added that the U.S. wants to "urge the Security Council to slap sanctions on Iran."
'Proliferation issue a good excuse to punish Iran'-- With the build-up to the Iraqi war fresh in their memories, editorialists remained wary of U.S. intentions for Iran. Turkish outlets argued that the invasion of Iraq was "based on a series of lies" fabricated by "professional liars like Rumsfled" and hence the U.S. "has no credibility on Iran." South Africa's liberal Sunday Independent likewise concluded that the invasion of Iraq "has undermined America's moral right to lecture nations." Pakistan's popular Ausaf announced the U.S. intends to overthrow the Iranian regime and install "a new government of pro-U.S. elements." In Iran itself, papers claimed that the U.S. is seeking "pretexts in order to fulfill its spiteful wish to overthrow the divine Islamic system." China's official Xinhua Daily Telegraph warned that the U.S.' "major goal" is to "isolate the Islamic regime of Iran" and then "look for a good excuse...to overthrow it."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Patricio Asfura-Heim
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 77 reports from 30 countries February 8 - 23, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Seize This Moment"
Left-of-center Guardian stated (2/10): "Dr. Rice has been reassuring Europeans that Iran is not another Iraq. While the U.S. president will never take the threat of force off the table, the military option is low on his list. Yet the administration wants Iran to stop working towards a nuclear weapons capacity, stop supporting terrorists, reform itself, and respect human rights. This adds up to regime change."
"Rice Calls On Europe To Turn Away From Old Disputes."
Independent Financial Times noted (2/9): "Ms Rice deliberately cited examples of co-operation and shared achievements, but in a late press conference she reiterated the U.S.' tough stance on Iran's nuclear research program, which has divided the U.S. and Europe."
GERMANY: "Nuclear Program"
Right-of-center Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung said (2/18): "Iran's nuclear program is a serious problem. It requires the attention and the engagement of the rest of the world to prevent another state from getting the bomb. France, Britain and Germany have given evidence of this engagement in their talks with Tehran, even though the outcome of the talks is by no means satisfying. But it would be better if the United States and Europe, during President Bush's visit, agreed on a long-term, joint strategy towards Iran. And at the end, there could even be the threat to use force. But all possible means should be exhausted first."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/17): "America and Israel do not stand alone in their suspicion that Iran's nuclear program also serves a military purpose. Even Europeans are horrified by the possibility, to put it mildly, that an unconventional regime produces unconventional weapons.... Foreign Minister Kharrazi's statement did not negate the doubts about Iran's goals.... This insecurity does not help create confidence and is a burden to the negotiations. When Tehran demands respect, incentives and security guarantees, which are legitimate desires, it must also put the cards on the table and must not switch on and off the button for uranium enrichment. Otherwise the case will go to the UNSC. This would not necessarily mean a tough confrontation, especially because Iran might rely on some economically interested supporters, but it would fuel the conflict. The alarming news that there had been an explosion near the nuclear plant in Busher unveils the great nervousness."
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (2/17): "The nervous reactions and the universal commotion reflect that the world worries about the highly explosive situation in Iran.... The dispute over the Iranian nuclear program exceeds the explosiveness of other crises in the world.... Despite the negotiations and the principle willingness of the Mullahs, the talks suffer from setbacks, standstill, as well as Tehran's deceptions and threats. They raise doubts whether the negotiations make sense at all. However, the European policy is the correct and most promising approach despite the setbacks. But the EU-3 are toothless without the U.S. Washington has in its hands what Europe lacks: the military option. Although many experts do not believe that a military strike can be successful, to believe in a soft negotiation result is false and naïve. Without the military threat, Tehran would not comply, because the Mullah's resolve to renounce the nuclear program is very frail, if at all existent. Washington must stick to the unofficial division of labor between Europe and America to avoid that any Iranian sound turns into a large blast for the international community. That means that the U.S. must make clear that it will only play the military card when the negotiations with Iran have definitely failed."
"Stock Markets Watch Iran"
Left-of-center Nuernberger Nachrichten (2/17) opined: "Diffuse news from the Iranian dessert immediately caused turbulences at stock markets. The dollar fell and the oil price hiked. When the all clear came, things normalized and the financial markets calmed down. This is evidence for the nervousness in the world, a sign of latent hysteria and panic. Speeches like that of the American President a few weeks ago fuel such insecurity. Although Washington has repeated its assurance several times that it has no actual war plans, our latent worries solidify."
"Don't Abolish It, Control It"
Leftist Die Tageszeitung of Berlin commented (2/9): "Brussels wants to resolve the conflict through negotiations only. This is positive, but it poses a great risk. If this approach fails the EU must decide whether it backs or opposes Washington in a war against Iran. The EU pursues the same goal like the U.S. Both want Iran to renounce uranium enrichment, although international law does not prohibit its civilian use. Even a democratically elected Iranian government would not agree on this discrimination. Other countries have the right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes as well. The elimination of Iran's nuclear knowledge and capacities would only be possible by waging war and occupying the country. The only realistic strategy to resolve the conflict is the demand that Tehran complies with multilateral control regimes and transparency regulations."
"The Nuclear Poker Game."
Center-right Märkische Oderzeitung noted (2/8): "What is currently happening at the level of psychological warfare could soon escalate to an armed conflict. Time in the nuclear poker game is running out. With great suspicion, Washington is looking at the European efforts…and Tehran threatened to end the current talks at the latest at the end of March if they do not produce a result by then. This is not a good omen for the next round of talks that begins in Geneva today.... The real intentions in Tehran and Washington are unclear. North Korea nuclear arms modernization could have prompted Tehran to conclude that its own position would improve if it did the same, and Washington could be inclined to prevent another North Korea by using force."
ITALY: "Teheran Proposes An Axis With Damascus”
Ennio Caretto in centrist Corriere della Sera commented (2/17): “On a day that was complicated by rumors of a missile attack against an Iranian nuclear plant, Syria responded to American warnings concerning Lebanon by creating a ‘common front’ with Iran.... Neither the ‘common front’ nor the accident induced the U.S. to relent on its tug-of-war with Syria and Iran. The U.S. Emissary for the Middle East, William Burns, ...called for ‘the immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.’ In Senate testimony, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that Ambassador Margaret Scobey, whom she recalled from Damascus, would return there only after ‘Syria has taken taken steps.’ Rice did not accuse the Syrians of killing Hariri, but complained that ‘their troops and their support of Hezbollah destabilize Lebanon.’”
“Iran-Syria, Common Front Against U.S. And Israel”
Stefano Trincia in center-left Il Messaggero opined (2/17): “The U.S. Ambassador in Syria was called back to Washington for urgent consultations the day following the assassination. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used strong words of condemnation in denouncing the deteriorating relations with Syria, a ‘destabilizing factor for the Middle East.’ Iran and Syria responded...by forming ‘a common front’ and by ‘strengthening their relations’ in order to resist to ‘U.S. and Israeli’ pressures. The Syrian question is becoming increasingly important on George Bush’s agenda; it is the latest chapter of the global fight for the ‘forced’ democratization of the Middle East.... During a Senate deposition...Secretary of State Rice...said that ‘the conditions created by Syria’s presence have produced an unstable situation in Lebanon.’ The recall of the U.S. Ambassador in Syria is an unequivocal gesture toward the Syrian regime that has ‘unfortunately taken a path that will...exacerbate relations with the United States.’ … Bush will do his best to handle the joint Syrian-Iranian front in order to avoid creating conditions similar to the Iraqi crisis. The White House intends to redirect the Lebanese issue to the UN, and it will attempt to exert the utmost pressure on Damascus and Teheran through the Security Council.”
“Iran, The Nuclear Issue Frightens The World”
Alberto Flores D’Arcais in left-leaning La Repubblica said (2/17): “During her trip to Europe, Condoleezza Rice did not miss the chance to repeat that the United States desires and is seeking to find a ‘diplomatic solution’ to the nuclear issue regarding Iran, and the White House is reiterating that Bush will express the same concepts to his European allies and to Putin during his European visit next week. But behind Washington’s official caution lies the fear that sooner or later a showdown with Teheran will be inevitable.”
“Korean Atomic Bomb Is Ready”
Leading business daily Il Sole 24 Ore opined (2/11): “Iran is raising its voice…. Khatami, the moderate leader at the end of his mandate flexed his muscles and promised a flaming hell if the U.S. attacks the Ayatollah’s republic.... Indeed, the atomic weapon has also become a ‘bomb of the poor,’ that is of those countries that do not have much option for maneuver, those countries that feel besieged by a world that threatens to overwhelm them if they open to economic and political reforms…. For some states, showing or signaling a bomb is a way to try to be treated by the superpowers as nations of equal status, without having the size for it. We should not underestimate nuclear dangers, but we should not magnify them either.”
“U.S. Warns Iran: ‘Halt To Nuclear Now'"
Ennio Caretto in centrist Corriere della Sera noted (2/10): “Condi Rice, who yesterday visited NATO and the EU in Brussels, and President Bush, who met with Polish leader Kwasniewski at the White House, performed a threatening duet on Iran. Rice warned that if Tehran doesn’t forget its nuclear ambitions ‘further measures are already ready, and everyone knows what that means.’ The President…stated: ‘Iran must know that the free world is working to send a single, clear message: don’t produce weapons of mass destruction.’”
“Tehran’s Nuclear Threat Is A Thorn In Side Of U.S.-EU Relations”
Martino Rigacci stated in center-right Il Tempo (2/10): “Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Brussels confirmed that Iran’s nuclear plans might poison both George W. Bush’s upcoming European mission and, after the Iraqi rift, transatlantic relations. Tehran’s nuclear ‘dossier’ was an issue that accompanied the U.S. Secretary of State’s tour in Europe all along.... Supported by France, Great Britain and Germany, as well as by EU High Representative Javier Solana, the EU is leading a tough diplomatic intervention to resolve the issue of Iran’s enriched uranium program.... The problem is that the means used to reach the objective are quite different. Diplomatic means on the part of Europe and the U.S. exerting pressure, which could even imply a military action, an option which Rice declared, ‘is not on the agenda,’ for the time being.”
“U.S. Pressure On Teheran Grows”
Alberto Negri commented in business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (2/9): “Iran is considered the new threat to American plans in the Middle East. The accusations against Teheran are similar to those against Saddam’s regime: WMD, support to terrorism, particularly to Palestinian terrorism. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated the accusations during her European visit and yesterday was immediately echoed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair.... Unlike Iraq, Iran has in effect developed a nuclear program that could serve civilian as well as military purposes.... Washington fears that it will no longer be able to contain Iran’s strategic and economic potential. If Iran were to become a nuclear power, or so American thinking goes, it would escape control, introducing itself as an equal partner for Europe, China, India and Russia.”
RUSSIA: "An Anti-American Front"
Yevgeniy Shestakov wrote in official Rossiyskaya Gazeta (2/18): "The U.S. administration pretends not to see the emergence of a new military and political alliance. But sources close to the U.S. State Department say that the Iran-Syria common front is an unpleasant surprise to Washington. The two countries share a position on Palestine. They actively support Lebanon's Hezbollah considered terrorist by the Americans. Syria was the only Arab country to offer political and moral support to the Ayatollahs' regime in the grim days of the war against Iraq. So further rapprochement between Tehran and Damascus in the face of the United States' threats seems logical."
"Syria, Iran Join Hands"
Marianna Grishina commented centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda published a by (2/18): "Strategic cooperation and friendship between Syria and Iran grows into something bigger, a political alliance. We are witnessing the emergence of a new pole of world politics and serious changes in the area of international security. Contrary to what Damascus and Tehran claim, their common front serves primarily to counter American pressure. George Bush playing hard ball, threatening sanctions against Damascus at one time and hinting at possible air strikes at nuclear targets in Iran at another provokes a reaction from the Arabs. It looks like a remake of the Cold War atmosphere."
The official parliamentary Parlamentskaya Gazeta held (2/10): "The poll in Iraq and re-election for a second term are not the only
victories won by George Bush. The President and his national security advisors sought and gained control over military and intellectual centers of strategic studies. This makes one wonder about the 'erroneous conclusions' regarding Iraq WMD. The latest statements by the U.S. President prove that he harbors aggressive plans to use special forces against Iran's leadership on the pretence of fighting terrorism. Iraq was just a beginning."
"Washington Talks Diplomacy"
Centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta commented (2/8): "There has been a marked change in American tone. A week ago the emphasis was on a 'military option,' whereas today Washington's diplomatic formulas sound like a dove cooing. The reason for the change is that Rice, when talking to European leaders scared by Washington's warlike threats against Tehran, said that Washington could wait as long as diplomacy worked.... As Washington is determined to make the Iranians shut down their full-cycle nuclear program, Tehran is determined to make that program work. Washington and Tehran being so determined gives little hope for good news from Geneva where Iran and the Troika are meeting for more talks today. That promises more rounds of Washington changing from 'hawkish' screams to 'dovish' remonstrations and back again."
"Iran Flexes Muscles"
The business-oriented Kommersant held (2/8): "As they temporize and try to be neutral, Russia and Europe are acting about the same way they did when the United States made its first threats against Iraq. Also, just like in those days, they are unsure whether the Americans will ask them to join in once something untoward happens.... The world is vacillating between a harsh Bush-type option and its milder European alternative. It is unlikely that the leading nations will reach a consensus on the latter, let alone the former. Obviously, the Iranians picked the right time to flex their muscles and remind the world of their resistance potential and the cost of the issue at hand."
AUSTRIA: "Muddle Of Conflicts In The Middle East"
Helmut L. Mueller for independent Salzburger Nachrichten commented (2/17): “After Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “charm offensive” and before President Bush’s European tour, America’s new front against Damascus and Teheran is another serious test case for the transatlantic relations. In the conflict with Syria, Bush could soon be urging the Europeans to participate in internationally coordinated actions. Also, in the nuclear dispute with Iran, the strategies of the U.S. and Europe are not really coordinated, as it is always said, but run parallel in an uncoordinated manner. In addition, a new breaking point between the U.S. and Russia can be made out. Cornered, Syria has appealed to its old sponsor in Moscow and is once again receiving weapons deliveries from Russia. In Iran, too, one of Russia’s traditional spheres of influence, Washington and Moscow are getting in each other’s way. The Russians supply the Iranians with the technical equipment for those nuclear reactors that the U.S. perceives to be the instrument with which Teheran will produce nuclear weapons.
“Nuclear Program Interpretations”
Peter Talas opined in business-oriented Vilaggazdasag (2/17): “Both Pyongyang and Tehran have probably come to the conclusion that...Washington only metes out military punishment to countries that are weak enough, and do not possess weapons of mass destruction, that are several magnitudes more dangerous than traditional ones. Moreover, during the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the limitations of the American military possibilities are becoming more and more obvious. Consequently, both Iran and North Korea can be fairly certain that Washington, fearing an even greater failure than in Iraq, will not carry out its threats of war.... On the other hand,…the European Union proposal recommending peaceful nuclear technology to Tehran in return for stopping its nuclear bomb program will hardly reduce the Iranians’ feelings of being threatened, only Washington could do that. It is appropriate, though, for Iran not to remain totally isolated, not to become fundamentalist on state level, and not to become the region’s North Korea, because that would be the worst possible scenario.”
“Politics With Weapons”
Leading economic Wirtschaftsblatt editorialized (2/10): “That Austria, just at the moment that the U.S has stigmatized Iran as a dangerous state, became conspicuous through its weapons deliveries to that country, was not intentional. However, the United States’ authority as the world’s chief moralist has been damaged by President Bush and the Iraq war, which was begun under false pretences. What that means for Austria is that its moral behavior does not necessarily have to match American notions.”
CROATIA: “An American In Paris”
Vinka Drezga of Government-owned “Vjesnik” wrote (2/10): “Rice understands that the road to renewed American-European alliance leads through the hardest point, Paris. One has to take into consideration at the same time that Iran and China are open points of dispute between the U.S. and other Europeans, not just Paris. Unlike Americans, Western Europeans are mostly in favor of diplomatic handling of the Iranian nuclear program, and have no problems with renewed sale of arms to China. It will be clearer after the forthcoming Bush/Chirac meeting how these differences will be overcome.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "The Risks In Iran"
Jan Eichler commented in center left Pravo (2/10): "If the Bush Administration decides to punish Iran for its nuclear program by a military attack, it would be very foolish to count on massive support of Iranians in the conflict. The opposite would be true and such an approach would only result in increased hatred against the U.S. throughout the Muslim world providing yet another cause for would-be terrorists. In this case the “European” approach, which combines punishment with economic incentives, would prove to be much more effective."
DENMARK "America Ready To Get Tough With Iran"
Tom Jensen for center-right Berlingske Tidende wrote (2/13): "Condoleezza Rice has noted that the U.S. is willing to give diplomacy a chance in Iran. European relations with Tehran would almost appear naïve, if it was not the fact that trade has always been a factor in European-Iranian relations. Conservative circles in Washington do not seem overly concerned about the problems of going into Iran, but should this happen, the results could be disastrous for the entire region."
"Rice Will Hopefully Brake U.S. Intervention In Iran"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten editorialized (2/12): "The Iran nuclear controversy has now entered a decisive phase. It is crucial that the U.S. seeks cooperation. The U.S. in under pressure in Iraq, but a lot of uncertainly remains regarding just how far the U.S. is willing to go to fight nuclear proliferation. The arrival of Condoleezza Rice will hopefully calm fears that the U.S. is ready to go it alone on the Iran issue."
FINLAND: "Rice Managed To Ease Off The Atmosphere Prior To Bush Visit"
Centrist Helsingin Sanomat noted (2/14): "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice succeeded in her primary task during her visit to Europe, which was to prepare the atmosphere prior to President Bush's visit to Brussels next week…Readiness to forget the past is valuable in itself, but it does not guarantee that the rift will become smaller in difficult international political problems. Rice’s tour did not help to assess the concrete achievements too much.... Rice assured that the U.S. won't use force againts Iran, but the EU is still suspicious. Britain, France and Germany would like to have clearer support for their diplomacy...the Trio is afraid that Washington will intentionally let their efforts fail and then take more harsh unilateral action.... It is not likely that total unanimity could be reached during or after Bush's visit. The parties have not had a chance yet to test their ability to be flexible during Bush's second term."
IRELAND: “Bush In Listening Mode”
The center-left Irish Times said (2/23): “While the U.S. and the EU are to co-host an international conference on rebuilding Iraq, NATO allies yesterday gave minimal commitments to help out the U.S. led coalition there. How to tackle Iran's nuclear ambitions remains a central point of disagreement. Progress on an Israeli-Palestinian agreement will depend on co-ordinated action from both sides of the Atlantic, as will regulating arms sales to China. Mr Bush's references to closer co-operation in tackling climate change are a long way from the urgency pointed up by the latest scientific research on the world's oceans, which shows how far global warming has gone. If transatlantic relations are genuinely to be transformed they must become more equal, with the development of new frameworks for political, foreign policy and security dialogue. This imperative was stated clearly at yesterday's summits and is now firmly on the U.S.-EU agenda. That is the most important thing to emerge from these events. It could be a historic change”.
"Iran's Nuclear Plans"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (2/17): "It is a measure of current international alarm that world markets should shudder yesterday on reports that an explosion near a nuclear plant in Iran might have come from a missile fired by an attacking aircraft... the flurry of alarm was stoked by several recent reports that the U.S. is sending intelligence drones over Iran and identifying possible targets for air attacks against its nuclear facilities. It follows several warnings that the country is at the top of the Bush administration's threat list. There have also been suggestions that Iran could also be targeted by Israel. Yesterday, Iranian representatives warned that time is running out to complete negotiations with Germany, France and Britain on economic and security guarantees against which Iran would agree not to develop nuclear weapons. They were referring to next week's talks between President Bush and European leaders in Brussels. Unless the U.S. agrees to back any such guarantees the talks are likely to fail, which would rapidly escalate the issue in weeks to come.... Yesterday, Iran's pivotal role in the Middle East region was underlined when its vice-president met the Syrian prime minister in Tehran. They pledged to set up a ‘common front’ against regional challenges, but denied this refers to the United States.... Iran's policies will profoundly affect neighbouring states. Its leaders have a lot to gain from an agreement on nuclear energy. But the more they are threatened the more they feel the need to press ahead with a nuclear military programme to deter attack. The talks with Germany, France and Britain are central in this calculation of security costs and advantage."
"Iran And Syria Pledge To Form Common Front"
The center-left Irish Times said (2/17): "Iran and Syria, both locked in disputes with the United States, yesterday pledged to form a common front to face challenges and threats. ‘We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats,’ Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said in Tehran after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari"
MALTA: "U.S. And EU Must Work Together On Iran"
Independent The Sunday Times editorialized (2/19): "Dealing with Iran is a complex issue that requires patience, intense diplomacy and the offer of an economic package in return for giving up any nuclear weapons programmes capability, with the threat of the use of force in the background.... It is important that Europe and the U.S. speak with one voice when dealing with Iran, not just for the sake of it, but because at this point in time the most sensible option is diplomacy.... Certainly, a U.S. invasion, considering the situation in Iraq and America's past relationship with Iran would be nothing short of madness. A U.S. or Israeli military strike against nuclear targets would be a huge gamble: if the strike fails and the country is left with a nuclear capability...then the U.S. will have a huge challenge on its hands. In such a scenario Iranians would rally around their government, Iran would become even more determined to produce nuclear weapons and even more hostile towards the West, and support for international terrorism would increase. Furthermore, any attack on Iran from the West would be used as an excuse by the mullahs to crack down further on the country's liberals who would be labelled "pro-Western".... Iran, a Shiite Muslim country, has a considerable amount of influence among the Iraqi Shi'ites and if provoked could became a major destabilising force in Iraq.... Furthermore, Iran has the potential to mobilise Hizbollah across Israel's border in Lebanon and just when there appears to be a ray of hope in the Middle East, this is the last thing that is needed. The U.S. administration, at least Condoleeza Rice, now seems to have toned down the rhetoric over Iran. Perhaps now it is time for Europe to increase its rhetoric with Teheran so as to move closer towards a common position with the U.S. However, any policy towards Iran must take into consideration Iran's security concerns..... The U.S. should start thinking about ending its sanctions against Iran and forging a rapprochement with this country after a quarter of a century of hostilities, in return for Iran giving up its nuclear weapons-making capability."
NORWAY: “The United States And Europe Are On Speaking Terms Again”
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (2/11): “After Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has spent a week visiting Europe and the Middle East, it is clear that the United States is back on speaking terms with all of Europe after a bitter diplomatic feud before the Iraq war two years ago.... Only the actual cooperation in the period ahead can provide answers to the question of how much political will is behind these general requests. Here, two issues will be especially important. First of all, a U.S. will to have genuine and honest discussions on what the right direction is for Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and not just a requirement that others have to follow the United States.... The most important issue is now the further proliferation of nuclear weapons.... The United States and leading EU countries fear the same thing will happen in Iran as in North Korea. Here France, Great Britain and Germany have negotiated strict international control with Iran’s nuclear program, but have not yet shaped a policy for what they will do if Iran declines this type of control. That’s when things get serious, and that’s when true cooperation with the United States becomes decisively important.”
“Time For Reconciliation”
Independent Dagbladet noted (2/11): "Condoleezza Rice has this week laid the groundwork for her boss, because toward the end of the month George W. Bush will also travel to Europe.... In the meantime the world is waiting in suspense for what the United States plans to do with Iran. A U.S. bombing of Iranian nuclear installations without a potential UN-acceptance and European understanding will not create an equally large crisis as the war in Iraq. But it will show the world that Bush II is not so different from Bush I after all.”
SPAIN: "From Words To Results"
Centrist La Vanguardia wrote (2/23): "Washington's undisguised attempts to divide the old continent seem to be overcome. But, if talking about the advancement of specific matters, achievements can only be described as modest.... In other disputes, such as the EU's plans to lift the arms embargo on China, there was also a rapprochement, but not an agreement.... The divergences also extend to Iran, a country to which some European states want to give an incentive to abandon its nuclear program, which differs from the policy of 'zero concessions' that Washington maintains with Teheran. However, Syria will have to seriously consider the retreat of its troops in Lebanon, one of the few things in which Washington and Paris completely agree upon."
Left-of-center El País wrote (2/10): "Rice put a good finale to her first tour as the Secretary of State yesterday, made with tact, but without giving ground. However, the new and warmer transatlantic breeze does not eliminate the deep differences on Iran, the possible lifting of the embargo to sell arms to China by the Twenty Five, and Washington's opposition to the International Criminal Court's investigation of the genocide in Darfur.... The continuance of Rumsfeld at the Pentagon does not augur that Rice will be able to keep her promise of a return to the preeminence of diplomacy in the foreign action of the Bush Administration."
TURKEY: “The War Drums”
Melih Asik for mass appeal centrist Milliyet argued (2/17): “The U.S. is preparing for a strike against Syria and Iran. Interestingly enough, Turkey has volunteered to be part of this mess as a self-declared ‘strategic partner’ of the U.S. The pretext for the invasion of Iraq was based on a series of lies, and the U.S. is now doing the very same for Iran. Strikes against Syria and Iran will certainly be disastrous for this region. And make no mistake, Turkey undoubtedly will be next on the list. The Middle East is going through its most critical period, and the U.S. is the primary threat. Unfortunately Turkey’s rulers, especially the Foreign Minister, are in a kind of ‘blind love’ with the United States that prevents them from seeing the facts.”
“Bush’s War Of Nerves”
Hakan Celik wrote in the mass appeal-sensational Posta (2/17): “The U.S. is out to reshape the Middle East according to its own interests and requirements. There are various methods for implementing this goal, including changing borders by creating divisions and eliminating totalitarian regimes in the region. Let’s remember that the Pentagon used to make plans to divide Saudi Arabia into three. The first phase of the plan to reshape Middle East has been concluded with the Iraq invasion. The recent easing of tension between Israel and Palestine has paved the way for the U.S. administration to keep its full focus on Iran and Syria. It is not surprising to see the world’s reaction to yesterday’s news of a reported missile attack in Iran. Everybody immediately thought of the U.S. or Israel, thanks to this war of nerves being conducted so skillfully by the Bush administration.”
“Has The Crack Between Ankara And Washington Been Repaired?”
Zafer Atay commented in economic-political Dunya (2/9): “What did Ankara gain with Rice visit? Have any of the cracks in Turkish-U.S. relations been repaired? The answer is ‘no.’ It is not a positive development that Rice and Erdogan confirmed the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Turkey.... For some reason, the Iran issue did not appear on the agenda of the Rice-Erdogan meeting. Ankara and Washington do not share the same view on this issue. Although Ms. Rice mentioned earlier that the U.S. is planning an immediate attack on Iran, one has to remember that there were such remarks in Washington before the operation against Iraq. Rumsfeld called Turkey’s March 1 decision, not allowing the U.S. troop transfer to Northern Iraq through Turkey, a misfortune. In our opinion, the biggest misfortune is professional liars like Rumsfeld and his team being in the administration of a superpower like the U.S.”
“The Bells Are Still Ringing”
Haluk Ulman commented in economic-political Dunya (2/8): “The U.S. President rushed to target Syria and Iran, even before getting a clear picture of Iraq election’s outcome. Iran is accused of developing nuclear weapons and supporting international terrorism. Syria is also blamed for sheltering terrorists. Unfortunately, Bush has no credibility on Iran and Syria, especially after the fabrications on the WMD issue in Iraq.”
ISRAEL "Outcasts Iran And Syria Deepen Their Alliance"
Orly Halpern wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/18): "Lebanon, in Syria's backyard, is filled with people calling Syria names and accusing it of murder. The Iraqi neighbors are accusing Syria of supporting the Iraqi insurgency. The Jordanians and Turks are neutral, not wanting to upset their big U.S. patron because, although Syria is not on the official U.S. 'Axis of Evil' list, as is Iran, it is undoubtedly an honorary member. And the Israelis are, well, Israelis. The only one in the neighborhood willing to befriend the local outcast is Iran, itself not one of the most popular kids on the block, because of its development of nuclear capabilities. This week the two outcasts decided to form a club. Russia is an integral supporter; the U.S. and Israel are the bullies to be kept out."
Caroline Glick wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/11): "It is not easy to conflate the declared American policy of pursuing a diplomatic track that has no chance of succeeding with isolated indications that a completely opposite plan may be in the works. If the Bush administration wishes to build an international coalition that would back a combined military and revolutionary offensive targeting the Iranian regime and its nuclear installations, it is hard to understand how Washington's current declared policy will effect such a result. On the other hand, perhaps it doesn't matter. If a U.S.-Israeli strike on Iran's installations came immediately before the instigation of a popular overthrow of the regime, who would be able to condemn the action?.... Whatever the case may be, Israel's default position should be to use diplomacy to shame Europe into backing military action, Israel should fervently, loudly and publicly protest the appeasement policy adopted by Germany, France and Britain in the face of Iran's stated intention to annihilate the Jewish state with nuclear weapons. But if it works out that, as with North Korea, the U.S. has no plan to take effective action to stop Iran's nuclear program then Israel's policy imperatives will be radically altered. Israel will have to act independently. For as is clear to every Israeli, Israel cannot abide a nuclear-armed Iran."
SAUDI ARABIA: "The Policy Of The Heavy Stick"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (2/20): "If the U.S. diverted to Israel a little bit of the efforts it uses for accusing Iran and North Korea of having nuclear programs, the world would have showed an appreciation for its efforts in this regard...therefore, the U.S., in absence of international support for its policies, tends to display its heavy stick in a world full of problems. Yet, declaration of sanctions and threats in the face of others will not fix existing difficulties but rather would aggravate them."
SYRIA: "Danger Is Coming From Washington"
Basam Redwan in governemnt owned Tishreen wrote (2/17): “Any execution of Washington’s threats against Iran would be like 'the straw that broke the camel’s back', especially during the dangerous situation the region is facing. What is not less dangerous and should not be ignored, are the hostile Israel practices. Solving the Iranian Nuclear issue should be dealt with wisely and only through diplomatic channels. This issue should be looked at through a broader frame. The Whole region should be free from weapons of mass destruction mainly, Israel’s nuclear weapons which represents the real danger to the region that goes beyond its borders.”
PAKISTAN: “Who Is A Bigger Dictator Than The U.S.?”
Abdul Qadir Hassan argued in centrist Urdu-language Jang argued (2/17): "The U.S. is itself a dictator, and sponsor, and benefactor of many dictators of the world, so no U.S. magazine has any right to term dictator other rulers. Iraq, and Afghanistan are the most recent victims, and sufferers of this dictatorship. The U.S. has ruined these two countries, and now it is threatening Iran. But after the bitter experience in Iraq, it is reluctant to hit Iran. The security of Israel is also another concern to the U.S. That is why the U.S. is in predicament, to hit or not to hit Iran. Following Iran, it will be turn towards Pakistan. The U.S. is concluding its paperwork against the nuclear program of Pakistan. Iraq, and Iran are the two defense lines of Pakistan, once the U.S. crossed these lines, Pakistan would be its next target."
“Iran-U.S. Dispute: Aggressive Statements Would Increase the Problems”
Populist Urdu-language Khabrain noted (2/16): "Insistence by Pakistan and Britain on the U.S. and Iran to resolve their disputes through peaceful means proves that both the countries, Pakistan and Britain, are opposed to another war in the region.... The need is for Iran and the U.S. to desist from making aggressive statements against each other. The U.S. must also try to contain Israel because such statements are not only dangerous for the parties concerned, but would endanger global peace."
"U.S.-Iran Nuclear Standoff"
Tayyab Siddiqui said in center-left independent national English-language Dawn (2/16): "Ominous developments threatening the peace and security of our region are following an inexorable course. The denouement of these developments could be more sinister than the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The main protagonist in the evolving drama is again the U.S. The script is also a familiar one, except that this time the villain of the piece is Iran.... The U.S.-Iran nuclear stand off would have serious consequences for Pakistan, too, and hence Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's offer in Davos that "Pakistan will be willing to be the intermediary, if so required by all parties in the current impasse over Iran's nuclear program" should be pursued vigorously to defuse the situation. Shaukat Aziz met Foreign Minister Kharazi and these contacts should be frequent, meaningful and at the highest level. Pakistan has a direct and enormous stake in the current crisis that needs no elaboration."
"U.S. Flying Secret Missions Over Iran"
Center-left independent national English-language Dawn opined (2/14): "The U.S. has been flying surveillance drones
over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs, The Washington Post reported on Sunday. Besides looking for nuclear sites, the U.S. spy planes are also trying to detect weaknesses in Iran's air defense. The small, pilot less planes enter Iranian airspace from U.S. military facilities in Iraq."
“U.S. Establishes A Training Center In Herat To Remove Iran’s Government”
Popular Urdu-language Ausaf held (2/14): "The U.S. has established a training center in Herat, a southwestern city of Afghanistan to remove the present administration of Iran, and to install a new government of pro-U.S. elements, and the supporters of former King Pehelvi. The opponents and the dissidents of the present Iranian government are being given the training of spying, political and military affairs in this center, and are being sent back to Iran to destabilize the administration."
“Pakistan Should Stay Away From U.S. Designs Against Iran”
Second-largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt opined (2/11): "The people of Pakistan hope that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz would pay tribute, from the people of Pakistan, to the Iranian leadership for its resolute stand against possible U.S. aggression. The PM should tell the people of Iran that the people of Pakistan are ready to combat U.S. aggression and anti-Islam policy side by side with them. He should also make it clear that no independent and free country is answerable to the U.S.... The people of Pakistan fully know that terrorism accusations against Syria and making of nuclear weapons against Iran are in fact a prelude to isolate Pakistan in the region."
“Balochistan: Bastion Of Secret Agencies”
Masroor Azam Farrukh declared in center-right Urdu-language Pakistan declared (2/11): "But U.S. attack on Iran from Balochistan might initiate the destruction of Pakistan that American think-tanks predict for 2010. Would Pakistan Army’s reluctant operation in Balochistan become a source for the fulfillment of American objectives? Why do we have this impression that at last Pakistan would be “forced” to help America against Iran?"
"A Dangerous Scenario"
Center-right national English-language The Nation opined (2/11): "A flurry of reactions about the Iranian nuclear program emanating from different sides point to a dangerous scenario taking shape in the region. President Khatami has asserted "our clear right" to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, saying that Tehran would not give up its nuclear technology.... Mr. Bush has urged the West to work together to prevent such an outcome and has refused to rule out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, according to a latest AP report.... One really wonders at the U.S. itching to take on Iran. If it feels that it has not got a bloodied nose in its continuing adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is most likely to come to a different conclusion with Iran. Things would not be different with another political set-up in Tehran, if Washington is contemplating regime change to settle the matter. The entire Iranian nation feels like one man behind the government in its legitimate program allowed under the NPT. One hopes the U.S. would finally decide not to create further chaos in the region."
Center-right national English-language The Nation commented (2/09): The truth, as the Foreign Office spokesman has pointed out, is that there are certain elements in the U.S., which are interested in sustaining the canard. What he did not say, however, was that the U.S. would like to keep the pressure on Islamabad to coax it to take up roles, which would otherwise be inadvisable for it to play. In case it balks at doing so, the myth of proliferation could be rehashed and played up, to serve as a threat to its program. Washington desperately wants Tehran, its current bête noire, to simply abjure its intention of uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes.... Perhaps, the main reason why the weekly came out with the report at this stage is that the U.S. wants Mr. Aziz, visiting Tehran in the latter part of the month, to persuade the leadership there to accept its point of view. Pakistan should play no such role. As a friend of both Iran and the U.S., it could counsel them to “settle the issue peacefully through dialogue.” Beyond that we have no business to poke our nose in the affair. The undefined “role” Mr. Aziz told Newsweek it could play should not mean advocating Washington’s stand. No doubt, we would not wish peace in the region to be disturbed but that demands restraint from the U.S. administration, which Pakistan should not hesitate to make clear. The U.S. should ponder the serious fallout of any rash move against Iran. Already, it is paying heavily for its ill-conceived adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. People’s power, which Iran would have at its beck and call, would prove more devastating than the mightiest military force."
“Siege Of Iran: American Tactics For Pressuring Pakistan”
Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt noted (2/09): "U.S. President has launched a full-fledged campaign against Iran’s nuclear program and to run this ‘crusading campaign’ against Islam and Muslim countries he acquired full assistance from his countries newspapers and journals.... Most irresponsible among the nuclear powers of the world happens to be America, for massacred 200,000 people by dropping two nuclear bombs over Japan.... The people of Pakistan expect from their enlightened President General Musharraf that if he really takes America as Pakistan’s friend then he should ask the country to stop venomous propaganda against Pakistan.... Moreover, Pakistan should use its influence, if it has any, to stop possible U.S. attack on Iran."
“Iran: U.S. Hostility”
Lahore-based independent Urdu-language Din wrote (2/08): "European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in an interview with British TV that military action against Iran’s nuclear installations would be a grave mistake.... U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on the other hand, made it clear that presently attack on Iran is not on American agenda.... However, in mid-January, 2005, President Bush hurled an open threat of the use of force against Iran’s nuclear program. Not only that, even America’s adopted state Israel gave a naked threat of assault on Iran’s nuclear program.... American authorities have never said anything about Israel’s nuclear program.... Present era is the era of dialogue; military action cannot substitute lasting solution of any problem that can be achieved through dialogue. It is evident that Iran would not be an easy target for America and its allies, if they attempted to attack the country."
"An Attack On Iranian Nuclear Installations Must be Avoided”
Populist Urdu-language Khabrain noted (2/08): "Foreign Policy Chief of the European Union Javier Solana has said that an attack on the Iranian nuclear installations would be a mistake.... It is encouraging to note that the European union realizes the grave dangers involved in an attack on Iran, and is trying to stop Iran from uranium enrichment. There have been several rounds of talks between Iran and the EU on the issue but there has been no breakthrough as yet.... The need is for the U.S. to join the dialogue. However, the U.S. stance shows that it wants the talks to fail so that it can urge the Security Council to slap sanctions on Iran. Dick Cheney has mentioned other options, these would undoubtedly be an attack on the nuclear installations... American adventurism would destroy peace in the world and strengthen the impression in the Muslim world that it is doing so at Israel’s behest. This would increase terrorism in the world. Therefore this crisis must be resolved through peaceful means."
“Powerful Nations Should Oppose Attack On Iran”
Popular Urdu-language Express argued (2/08): "Following the recent threats by President Bush to Iran, the confrontation between the U.S. and Iran has been intensified. President Bush has chosen Condoleezza Rice as the Secretary of State for his next four years term. She is also a strong advocate of military attack on Iran.... Hence, there is a strong possibility of aggression against Iran by the U.S. or Israel.... Keeping in view the case of Iraq, it is quite clear that it is not easy to prevent President Bush from attacking Iran. All the other influential, and civilized countries will have to show nerves to force the U.S. to restrain from such reckless act."
IRAN: "The Iranian Nuclear Case And The Renewed Cooperation Between France And America"
Mas'ud Dehqani in moderate pro-reform Iran argued (2/14): "It seems that in view of the developments which have taken place on the international arena in the last few months, France has become more inclined towards cooperation with America. The re-election of George Bush as the President and the credibility that the extensive participation of the people of Iraq in their elections brought about for him, the promotion of the need for the resolution of the Middle East crisis to the rank of one of the White House's priorities and...are the factors which have induced the Paris officials to abandon their strong anti-American stances to some extent. In this connection, even with respect to some issues such as the Iranian nuclear case, Paris has somewhat added to the intensity and heat of its stances and postures.... In the opinion of political analysts, the policy which is currently being implemented vis-a-vis Iran is the age old and omnipresent policy of carrot and stick, and of course this policy can be effective only when both the carrots and the sticks play have their proper uses and functions. For this reason, there is need for close cooperation between America and Europe over this issue, and this close cooperation is something which has not been present in the recent years, and in the opinion of these analysts, Iran has reaped the maximum benefit from this situation.... Although at the present, no analyst believes this to be the case, it seems that at least in connection with some issues and topics such as the Iranian nuclear issue, both sides have agreed on some kind of a division of labor at least for a limited period of time."
"Analysis Of Politics, Culture And Society"
E. Safari in Hemayat commented (2/14): "Apparently, the main orders of the Europeans, who are holding negotiations that are inconclusive thanks to the Europeans' own failure to observe their primary commitments, are in the hands of America, and it is as though they are trying to move, step-by-step, toward putting forth fresh demands and gradually paving the way for what the Americans want.... The firm and strong position of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has always enjoyed the support of all the people and Muslims of the world, has always thwarted plots. And wherever we have fallen short with irrational flexibility and lowly exigencies, the other side has become more determined, has gained more concessions, and bragged in the process. For years, America has been seeking pretexts in order to fulfill its spiteful wish to overthrow the divine Islamic system by resorting to any possible means. Nuclear technology is their excuse today; and they will probably come up with another one in the future. Thus, nothing will be gained if Iran destroys its nuclear technology, since they will start harping on something else after that. Therefore, we should not grant any lunatic the pretext. We should proceed along a more powerful course in the negotiations, and not grant any concessions as long as we are not granted any."
"Why Is Europe Not Serious?"
Mehdi Mohammadi commented in conservative English-language Kayhan International (2/13): "The process of nuclear talks with Europe is not proceeding at the required pace. The eminent leader of the Revolution warned on the Feast of Ghadir that Iran will no longer carry on this process if it does not see enough diligence on the Europeans' side. Immediately afterward, officials in charge of the nuclear case affirmed the leader's statements in similar, yet more detailed, speeches. One should ask: What are the true reasons behind this negligence on the Europeans' side, and why has this process reached a point that even the most optimistic internal observers and experts are complaining about the slowness and inertness of the Europeans? First, maybe the Europeans should be uncommitted! It has been a year and three months since the day that the three European foreign ministers came to Tehran in a hurry, met with the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, and signed the "Tehran declaration" at the Sa'adabad mansion. During this time, the European side has repeatedly broken its explicit pledges vis-a-vis Iran, and, of course, it has never faced any considerable reaction, not so much as an expression of disappointment, censure, or threat. Is our cordiality toward the Europeans, while they have constantly trampled their promises, not enough to cause misconceptions for them and convince them that Iran will under any circumstances put up with their breaches of promise and will never show a serious and decisive reaction to them?"
CHINA: “Iran Dare Not Imitate North Korea’s Actions”
Chen Wenzhuo commented in official International Herald Leader (2/16): “Iran is acutely aware that its situation is different from that of North Korea on the issue of nuclear weapons, and that it cannot tread recklessly forward without fear of military attack. Unlike North Korea, which is located in a neighborhood of powerful, highly populated countries, Iran’s geographical position is relatively isolated.... Moreover, the U.S. has clearly taken a tougher position on Iran than North Korea. With North Korea, the U.S. continues to press for talks no matter what the response from Pyongyang. Conversely, the U.S. frequently waves ‘sticks’ at Iran, threatening the use of military force, and quietly hoping negotiations between the EU and Iran fail. The current impasse on Iran is just what the U.S. wants.... Iran is still making efforts to keep negotiations on-going, trying to gain support by visiting Europe and Russia.”
"U.S. Attempts To Make Use Of The Nuclear Issue To Change The Iranian Regime"
Pro-PRC Macau Daily News remarked (2/15): "On behalf of the European Union, France, Germany and Britain concluded the third round of negotiations with Iran concerning the Iranian nuclear issue. They failed to make any progress. Just before that, the U.S. Secretary of State Rice warned Iran in Brussels that if Iran and the European Union failed to make any progress on the nuclear issue, Iran might have to face 'other actions.' Rice also stressed that the U.S. had not set any deadline for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, but it 'cannot be put off indefinitely.' Judging from this, Iran seems to be the U.S.'s next target and the major objective of the U.S. seems to be changing the Iranian regime.... Now, Washington is considering how to change the Iranian regime. U.S. President Bush and Vice President Cheney have not ruled out the possibility of resorting to force to remove the nuclear plants in Iran as well as to cripple the existing Iranian regime. In the meantime, Bush in his State of the Union Address said bluntly that he supported the opposition party in Iran. He said, 'Tonight, I have to tell the Iranian people that as you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.' Some U.S. Congressmen also moved a bill through the Hoe to 'support the freedom law in Iran.'.... The U.S. has been pressing forward steadily. Iranian President Khatami said in a rally for the 26th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution that any country who dares to invade Iran will 'fall into a scorching hell.' The nuclear crisis between the two countries seems to have been further aggravated."
“Iran Refuses To Stop Work On Reactors: Ignores European Advice - Warns U.S. Not To Play With Fire”
Xu Yong commented in official Beijing Youth Daily (2/15): “Analysts note that Iran’s rebuff of European advice to replace heavy-water reactors with light-water reactors indicates a stronger likelihood that Iran will not be swayed by outside pressure. Of course, this probably means that the dispute between the U.S. and Iran will grow more hostile and intense.... The ‘fire’ mentioned by Iranian Foreign Minister is a reaction to the U.S. government’s refusal to exclude the possibility of military action on Iran.... European involvement as mediator in the U.S.-Iran conflict has helped diffuse the tense situation.... The U.S. would like to have Iran and its nuclear weapons program brought before the United Nations Security Council as soon as possible. Thereafter, the U.N. could decide whether or not to take sanctions against Iran.”
“A Triangle Game Is Taking Place On The Iranian Nuclear Issue”
Chen Wen noted in official Xinhua Daily Telegraph (2/13): "As the Iranian nuclear issue moves towards the critical stage, the triangle game between the U.S., EU and Iran gets more and more complicated.... The U.S.' major goal is to isolate the Islamic regime of Iran, and then look for a good excuse or positive condition to overthrow the regime.... Regarding tactics, although the U.S. tends to use coercion and pressure to achieve its goals, sometimes it softens its position to avoid damaging relations with the EU, and thereby isolating itself. In using pressuring tactics, the U.S. wants to avoid forcing Iran into a desperate situation. Most analysts believe that if Iran is pressured into a desperate situation, the U.S. may not be able to find a good short-term solution to the problem..... The EU, which is acting as mediator between the U.S. and Iran, is hoping to resolve the Iranian issue through diplomatic measures in order to protect its vested interest in Iranian energy.”
“The U.S. Is Pressuring Iran Step-By-Step”
Huang Peizhao wrote in official Communist Party People’s Daily (2/12): “Some analysts think that the U.S. is using the nuclear proliferation issue as a good excuse to punish Iran..... The U.S. pressure and rhetoric on Iran is eerily similar to that used by the U.S. prior to the invasion of Iraq. The recent escalation in the war of words between the U.S. and Iran cannot help but make people jittery.”
JAPAN: "U.S. Unhappy About Russia's Ties With Iran"
Conservative Sankei insisted (2/22): "Washington is visibly uncomfortable with President Putin's talks with a visiting senior Iranian official, during which the Russian leader expressed his intention to assist Teheran in developing nuclear energy. Washington appears to consider Russia's move as an attempt to challenge U.S. policy on the Middle East. The situation risks triggering an exchange of harsh words between Bush and Putin during a planned summit in Slovakia on Feb. 24."
INDONESIA: “A Lesson On The Iraqi Elections”
Muslim-intellectual Republika commented (2/16): “While the success to stop the Sunnis’ opposition remains questionable, there have been speculations that the winners of the elections will remain on good terms with Iran, which has become the U.S.’s next target for attacks. The Shiite leader Ayatollah Al Al-Sistani was born in Iran, and thousands of the United Iraq Alliance members are Shiites who have lived in exile in Iran for decades. There have been reports that their militias were trained in Iran. One of the Kurd leaders, Jalal Talabani, has roots in the Iranian border. No doubt the Kurdish economy and political life have been dependent on Iran. This makes it difficult for the U.S. to adopt a form of administration that is as pro-U.S. and pro-Israel as the neo-conservatives in Washington might have expected. Therefore, it is the American leaders who should change their perspective. It would be inappropriate for Bush and other leaders just to see the region as a ‘hunting ground’."
“On The Verge Of An Iran-American War?”
Riza Sihbudi wrote in independent Jawa Pos (2/11): “Thousands of U.S. forces have been deployed in Afghanistan in the east and in Iraq in the west. In the south, the U.S. has built bases in other Gulf countries. In the north, there is a NATO base in Turkey. Pakistan has also become a long-time ally of the U.S. All this means that the U.S. is set to launch military actions against Iran any time, and from any direction, even in the absence of support from European countries. Moreover, Israel is believed able to launch direct strikes on the nuclear reactor in Busher, Iran as it did on the nuclear reactor in Osirak, Iraq in 1981. Therefore, it is only a matter of time until a major Iran-American war will break out, especially after Presiden Bush called himself a ‘war president.’ As a country with a Muslim majority, Indonesia, with an interest in keeping the world’s peace, should confirm its opposition to Bush’s adventure.”
PHILLIPINES: “Rice Charms Europe, But Skepticism Remains”
Amando Doronila wrote in the center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer (2/14): "At the end of Rice's trip to Brussels, seat of the European Union, the conclusion of most of the European press was that the U.S. official had charmed the Europeans. Even so, the trip left Europeans skeptical over whether the second administration of President George W. Bush was on the way to transforming itself from warmonger to peacemaker. Rice's conciliatory rhetoric toward France and Germany, two of the strongest opponents of the war on Iraq, lost its soothing effect when the U.S. official mixed it up with a tough warning to Iran that it must abandon its attempt to build a nuclear weapon and end its support of terrorism. In London and Berlin, Rice refused to rule out the possibility of an attack on Iran, a possibility raised by U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney who said weeks ago that Israel might decide to attack Iran's nuclear facilities due to Iran's threats to destroy Israel.... The difference in the U.S. and European approaches to the Iran issue serves to highlight the difficulties surrounding the healing of the trans-Atlantic alliance”
SINGAPORE: "Iran, Be Careful"
The pro-government Straits Times opined (2/22): "President Bush's preference for diplomacy over military action against Iran is a commendable approach. The case that Iran is conducting a secret nuclear weapons program has not been made conclusively.... This makes talk of impending military action premature at best...a war would complicate a regional situation in which Iraq has just taken the first steps to political recovery. As for talk about a repeat of the Israeli attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor in Osirak in 1981, that, too, is dangeroU.S.. Unlike Iraq...Iran is likely to respond to a pre-emptive attack on its nuclear facilities..... With North Korea having upped the stakes in global insecurity, a new conflict in the Middle East is everybody's nightmare. But that nightmare should be Iran's as well. A nuclear-armed Iran will upset the balance of power in the Middle East to such an extent that it is inconceivable that the U.S., Israel or even Arab states there will accept it as a fait accompli.... Economic sanctions, possibly the first international response, will be disastroU.S. for Iran's fragile economy. To put it bluntly, nuclear weapons will not advance Iran's security but hinder it, perhaps disastrously. It is up to it to convince its European interlocutors, among others, that its nuclear program is peaceful. Washington, on its part, should work with Germany, France and Britain as they try to dissuade Iran from seeking nuclear folly. Any efforts to divide Europe and the U.S. in the hope that a diplomatic stalemate between them will work in Iran's favor are futile. No matter how closely the Americans and the Europeans cooperate, or do not cooperate, from day to day, the bottom line is clear: Iran cannot have both nuclear weapons and peace. The choice is Teheran's."
THAILAND: “World Peace Hit By Double Setback”
The moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post asserted (2/15): “The first day of the Chinese Year of the Rooster may go down in history as the day the world began its destruction. Arguably, the two surliest and most unfriendly members of the world of nations announced that they are abandoning the last shreds of polite behavior. Instead of talking, Iran and North Korea implied they would intimidate their neighbors, and back up their actions with terrible weapons. From now on, it seems, the leadership in Teheran and Pyongyang will either have their way or back up demands with nuclear threats. It is difficult to think of a worse double setback to prospects of world peace. For Thailand, the claim by the Kim Jong-il government that it owns nuclear weapons is the most urgent foreign affairs problem. The entire East Asian policy of recent governments has been built on the concept of bringing and welcoming North Korea into the international arena.... A nuclear-capable Iran would be a serious threat to peace in the Middle East. Arab neighbors long counting on Europe and the United States to help to minimize the danger from Iran, would be appalled. So would Israel, which has more advanced military equipment and fewer inhibitions about attacking nuclear threats.... For the common good, the world must make at least one more effort to convince these two countries that their future is better served by peaceful, open membership in the world community than to try to go it alone by threats of massive violence. Iranians and North Koreans would risk their own existence by even a single use of nuclear power against neighbors. It is no longer acceptable for any country to sit back and let others try to convince Iran and North Korea in a civilized manner. Only a worldwide effort has a chance at success.”
VIETNAM: "A Challenge For President Bush In The New Year "
Ho Chi Minh City Communist Party-run official Saigon Giai Phong commented (2/14): "Washington also has to decide whether or not to make economic and diplomatic concessions to Iran. Concerns about the supply of crude oil will be at the forefront as President Bush contemplates action over Iran's nuclear weapons program. Any military action that causes the shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz will have an immediate and significant effect on the world economy. However, it could be hard for the U.S. to persuade other permanent members of the United Nation Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea. President Bush is now in a dilemma to find a way to stop Iran and North Korea's nuclear program."
SOUTH AFRICA: “U.S. Must Watch Its Step In The Middle East”
Liberal Sunday Independent declared (2/22): “Even if Syria had no hand in the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri the case for exerting greater pressure on the regime in Damascus is clear. Syria’s military occupation of Lebanon ought to have ended long ago… It would be a mistake to regard America’s increasingly belligerent stance towards Syria as a sign that its priorities in the Middle East have changed. The number one threat in the region as far as Washington is concerned is still Iran… But Washington will continue to treat them very differently. Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear technology, and Syria is not… And that is why…America will keep the door open to diplomatic relations with Syria. With Iran, America has left the diplomacy up to European governments. The U.S. is right to put pressure on the autocracies of the Middle East to stop funding terrorism and interfering outside their own borders.... But the U.S. administration must be careful. Sabre-rattling can easily become counterproductive. The invasion of Iraq has undermined America’s moral right to lecture nations.... And America must bear in mind its own responsibility for Iran’s dash towards a nuclear capability.... It is imperative, too, that America recognizes how interconnected all the different problems are in this volatile region.... America must tread carefully. It is already embroiled in one conflagration in the region. It is in no one’s interest, including its own, for the fire to spread any further.”
NIGERIA: "Be Careful With Iran"
Independent weekly Sunday Champion editorialized (2/13): "Going by recent relentless complaints by the United States government and her European allies over Iran's nuclear program, the suspicion is strong that the world may not be spared yet another U. S.-led war on that region as happened to Iraq over a year ago.... U.S. should exercise restraint and use her enormous powers with discretion. We firmly subscribe to any decisive steps endorsed by the United Nations to force nations that have and use nuclear capability for unwholesome purposes to dismantle such facilities. The lesson from the yet to be completed campaign in Iraq is that nothing beats a global coalition in achieving success in critical international goals.... Experience should show that harrying Iran into precipitate defiance will be met with more sanctions, which to an impatient America will be pushed to the limits of war. The world may not be quite ready for another questionable war in the Gulf region. So let there be caution.... There must be new, creative ways of looking at issues by U.S. and her European allies. The prevailing super power tendency is creating more tension than global peace. The present fixation with Iran needs to be moderated, even as the nation is monitored to ensure that it uses its nuclear facilities for only the peaceful, developmental purposes it proclaims."
ARGENTINA: "A Straight Line"
Marcelo Cantelmi of leading Clarin wrote (2/16): "The bomb that massacred Hariri in Beirut is still bursting out. The crisis that has been hatched against Syria (which was accused by the U.S. of having military supported Saddam Hussein during the war, and by Israel of supporting both Hezbollah and Hamas) has escalated on a road that seems a clear straight line. Due to this surprising criminal assault, everything can happen now. Oil has been spilled on the fire of a region in heightened state of tension. Why? It does make sense to suppose that if the conflict deepens, Iran, the main member of President Bush's 'axis of evil,' will be the final target. Tehran, an ally of Syria, gained decisive influence in the Iraqi elections. It is the most complex cultural adversary in the Middle East's strategic 'marsh.' This is the bottom line confrontation."
"The U.S. criticizes Europe Due To Iran"
Maria Laura Avignolo, Paris-based correspondent for leading Clarin, commented (2/10): "Just like in the mediation among the members of a married couple in trouble, the conciliation hearing in Brussels and NATO between the Bush administration and the EU was not a conclusive success. The atmosphere of the so long planned postwar reconciliation between Europe and the U.S. was again frozen when U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice forgot her flirting with France and recovered her mandatory tone. She recriminated the 'troika' composed of European countries that negotiated with Iran for not having been clear enough in their warning messages to Iranian mullahs on the need for their nuclear disarmament. Implacable, Rice reminded the UK, France and Germany that they had not used the contention of the UN sanctions against Iran in their negotiations. After the deep disagreement at the UN Security Council between the Old Europe and the Bush administration due to the war in Iraq, this is nightmarish for the EU countries, which believed in her promise of a 'new chapter' in transatlantic relations."
CHILE: “Iran’s Nuclear Capability: Reasons For Negotiating”
Independent La Tercera opined (2/16): “In her recent trip to Europe, the new Secretary of State said that attacking Iran is not part of the agenda ‘for now,’ while at the same time the White House has accused Iran of being ‘one of the main sponsors of terrorism.’ To this we can add press reports that U.S. Special Forces have penetrated Iran to check its nuclear facilities, presumably a step prior to an attack.... This attitude belies the fact that Iran has not shown the intransigence and belligerence demonstrated by Iraq or more recently by North Korea. In fact, the Iranian regime does not deny having a nuclear program, but claims it is for civilian usee.... Unlike Iraq and North Korea, Iran has not banned the entry of UN Atomic Energy Agency inspectors or ceased to participate in the nuclear non-proliferation treaties signed every five years. It also cancelled its nuclear program at the request of the E3 - the United Kingdom, France, and Germany - which indicates it is open to dialogue. There is a sector in Iran that believes the nation has a legitimate right to have nuclear weapons as a dissuasive element, but this seems to be a reaction to what it views as aggressiveness on the part of the United States, which has invaded and military occupied its two immediate neighbors.... In this context, even Iran’s ‘hawks’ seem to view their nuclear potential as a means of defense rather than offense. Europe’s approach of dialogue seems better suited to eliminate Iran’s fear than does Washington’s admonishing tone. The international community must try to make Iran realize the advantages of continuing to allow inspectors access and participating in non-proliferation initiatives.... In this case an intelligent integration promises better results than a policy of isolation.”
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