March 7, 2005
DESPITE NEGOTIATIONS, IRAN'S 'NUCLEAR AMBITIONS' ARE 'WORRISOME'
** Deal for Russian fuel brings Iran closer to "nuclear future."
** Shift in U.S. policy on incentives is "welcome news in Europe."
** Writers question if negotiations with Iran will "deliver" results.
** Nuclear fuel agreement is "another chill" to U.S.-Russian relations.
After fuel deal, Iran persists towards a 'nuclear future'-- Dailies were concerned that "Russia's agreement to sell nuclear fuel to Iran no doubt complicates the efforts" to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, and that Iran "continues its strategy of buying time." A European author stated that by signing the Russian deal, "the Iranian leadership has come closer to its goal of leading the Islamic republic into a nuclear future." Germany's right-of-center Die Welt warned that "the safety clause that Russia would take back used fuel rods is only weak consolation." Conversely, several observers added that Russia didn't want a new nuclear power on its "doorstep" and would ensure that the fuel "cannot be used for nuclear bombs."
Bush temporarily 'willing to join the EU strategy'-- Initially after Bush's European visit, editorialists saw his willingness to support European negotiations with Iran as a positive "surprising move," and praised his "preference for diplomacy over military action." Many dailies noted that if negotiations fail, America's "patience would last only until the end of this spring." Italy's centrist La Stampa speculated that if talks fail, "the Americans will push to take the issue before the UN Security Council and impose sanctions." Another commentator suggested that by joining Europe in negotiations, America was "making it easier for it to form a common front with the Europeans at the Security Council."
Skeptics doubt negotiations will stop Iran's development of 'weapons program'-- Outlets opined that the "Europeans are disappointed" with the Iranian regime and with Tehran's recent threat to use "oil as reprisal if the UNSC were to get a hold of Iran's nuclear issue." France's right-of-center Le Figaro argued that "Iran is still reluctant to cooperate," and an Italian author noted that "Iran is not giving in to pressure." Writers commented that the "Iranians keep telling us that they are not ready to curb their nuclear program as far as the West desires," and that Tehran "will be unable to deliver" results. One paper warned that, "if the foot-dragging and the light treatment continue," Iran could become a "strategic threat" to "the entire world."
Fuel deal a 'diplomatic blow' to Russian-American relations-- Analysts observed that the deal was made "despite American opposition," and that it "sent another chill through U.S.-Russia relations." Dailies wondered if this would cause a "backtrack" in relations between Russia and America, and cautioned that "Washington appears ready to opt for a hard line and could ask for Russia's suspension from the G-8." A Spanish writer suggested that "it seems that a common interest in the fight against Islamic terrorism does not make up for the different strategic interests of Russia and the U.S."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: David Meyers
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 37 reports from 19 countries February 19 - March 7, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
FRANCE: "Iranian Threats"
Jean-Christophe Ploquin opined in Catholic La Croix (3/7): “Tehran is raising its voice against the Europeans over its nuclear program.... On Saturday, the very-well regarded Hassan Rohani warned about using oil as reprisal if the UNSC were to get a hold of Iran's nuclear issue. He also added that ‘the region would be weakened and that the U.S. would be the first to suffer. This is Iran’s way of reminding everyone that Iran’s control into Iraq goes far and that it considers American troops in Iraq to be ‘an occupation force…’ Rafsanjani has himself argued that Europe and the U.S. would be begging for trouble if they asked Iran to stop its plutonium enrichment program. The Europeans recently asked President Bush for help in their approach with Tehran.... Alone the Europeans cannot do much, other than gain some time. But also waste time because the Iranians will continue to play their double game until the elections on June 17. Tehran’s complex power structures should incite everyone to be very cautious.”
"Tehran Under Suspicion"
Maurin Picard in right-of-center Le Figaro (3/3) opined: “Iran is still reluctant to cooperate...and is refusing to give in to the imperious pressures from both the EU and the U.S. to give up its nuclear weapons program. Even at the risk of angering its western interlocutors.... Tehran’s line of conduct is extremely worrisome. While nothing forces Tehran to accept a second inspection of its Parachine plant, its refusal can only elicit concern.... Faced with the situation, the solution could well come, paradoxically, from the U.S. Washington is said to be close to joining the Europeans and offering Tehran to join the WTO, among other offsets, in exchange for giving up its nuclear program. This is what Secretary Rice seemed to be implying yesterday when she spoke of the implementation of a 'common strategy’ with the EU.”
GERMANY: "Tough Core, Cannot Be Cracked Open"
Gero von Randow said in an editorial in center-left Die Zeit (3/3): "During his most recent visit [to Berlin], Iran's chief negotiator Rohani pointed out that there is a consensus in almost all political camps in his country to get nuclear technology without any restrictions - for peaceful means, as it is said all over again that, unfortunately, cannot be proven. So, there has been no movement in the matter. But what would be the meaning of U.S. statements that the U.S. position concurs with the European one to prompt Iran to give up its plan to build up a militarily useful nuclear potential by offering incentives not to do this? Iranian diplomats do not consider such tones conciliatory; on the contrary, they consider it a U.S. attempt to prevent Europe from making a compromise with Iran on the enrichment [of uranium.]."
"Thriving Nuclear Deals"
Roland Heine wrote in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (3/1): "In its long-term dispute with Russia, there is the suspicion that the U.S. did not primarily care about the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Who can believe that Russia is interested in helping establish a nuclear power at doorstep of former Soviet Union states? It is also a simple truth that the higher the number of countries, which possess nuclear weapons the smaller is the strength of the old nuclear powers. We can be certain that Russia would have made sure anyway that the nuclear fuel cannot be used for nuclear bombs."
Nikolas Busse commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/1): "That the White House is considering offering incentives to Iran in exchange for renouncing its nuclear weapons program will be very welcome news in Europe, because Berlin, Paris and London have been calling upon Bush for some time to give up his policy of threats against Iran and to make it more attractive for Ayatollahs to renounce the bomb by offering to them money and technology. However, this will not resolve the conflict with Iran over night, because Iranians keep telling us that they are not ready to curb their nuclear program as far as the West desires. Russia's supply of another six reactors will even encourage Iran. Given this background, Bush's new readiness is barely more than a belated present for his European hosts of last week. We will really see Washington's readiness to take action if the negotiations with Iran fail."
"Spring Of Negotiations"
Stefan Ulrich observed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/1): "He came, listened, and changed his policy -- this is how the upcoming change of the U.S. president's Iran policy can be summarized. Europeans have apparently convinced George W. Bush during his visit that the European strategy is not evil. He gives Europe a chance. America will help the European troika of France, Britain and Germany to convince Iran to renounce its nuclear weapons program. For the first time, this approach looks like it could be successful, because Tehran has always communicated that a deal with Brussels would be nice, but that it would also be worthless without Washington's approval.... With American help Europeans now hold the carrot and the stick in their hands to convince the mullahs. But time is flying. Bush's administration signaled that its patience would last only until the end of this spring. The hope for a peaceful solution of the crisis remains small, because two premises have not changed: firstly, the mullahs want the bomb--if not now then later. Secondly, Americans want regime change in Tehran--if not today then tomorrow."
"Diplomats On The Front Lines"
Ewald Stein noted in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (3/1): "It might be too early to interpret Washington's statements on economic concessions for Iran as a new strategy, but we do notice a modified tactic. While President Bush made ambiguous statements during his European visit last week, saying that he wants to examine European's proposals to resolve the nuclear conflict with Tehran, he is now apparently willing to join the EU strategy.... Americans have at last begun making an effort to search for a coordinated policy with Europe. This should not be euphorically seen as the Brussels summit's first success, despite the transatlantic harmony declared there. However, pragmatists in the U.S. administration seem to have realized that nothing can be achieved at the moment by martial threats against Tehran.... Looking at it realistically, diplomacy is the only way. This means a policy of 'giving and taking' and not 'all or nothing.' If this were successful it could become a model to convince other countries, which are also aiming for a nuclear bomb. This would be a very good turn in the attempt to put a stop to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
Manfred Pantförder opined in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/28): "The Iranian leadership has come closer to its goal of leading the Islamic republic into a nuclear future. The deal with Moscow for the shipment of fuel rods for the nuclear power plant in Bushehr is perfect. U.S. pressure on the Kremlin was not enough to dissuade Moscow from giving up the delicate deal with the wannabe nuclear power in the Middle East. The safety clause that Russia would take back used fuel rods is only weak consolation. Who should control this? According to the plan, these should be IAEA experts, but in the past, Tehran deceived the IAEA.... Tehran is seeking nuclear support only for a brief period of time, but in the long run, Iran wants to produce fuel rods on its own. In order to achieve this goal, Tehran again and again insists on enriching uranium in the country. But while the Europeans want to urge Tehran to give up enrichment, Tehran is afraid of new dependencies. That is why Tehran will be unable to deliver the Europeans with what they want. This means that Iran will keep all nuclear options open. And with Russian support, it now creates facts. The Pact marks the timeframe for a solution: the nuclear power plant in Bushehr is to be operational by the end of the coming year. "
"Haggling About Nuclear Weapons"
Georg Horst opined in an editorial in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (2/28): "The talks about Iran's nuclear program will be continued, and it is unclear whether they will make progress.... The Iranian viewpoint is understandable that the country wants to know what it has to deliver to be recognized as an honorable contracting partner. But we cannot ignore the slyness of this argument in view of the objective difficulty defining objective guarantees. It is good that the United States stands behind the European interlocutors. Its willingness to intervene militarily in case of doubt will make clear to Iran and its love for shrewdness the seriousness of the situation."
ITALY: "Now Putin Thinks He’s Bush"
Mauro Martini wrote in left-leaning newsweekly L’Espresso (3/4): “The Iranian game is still long for the United States. We could have easily predicted that Russia would not have easily passed up an 800 million dollar agreement to furnish Tehran with nuclear fuel to activate its controversial plant in Bushehr. George W. Bush has a number of different options available.... Including the proposal of Great Britain, Germany and France to provide substantial economic benefits, including WTO membership, in exchange for Tehran’s decision to give up plans to activate the plant in Bushehr...But the prevailing opinion in Washington is...that Russia should be promptly excluded from this year’s G-8 summit -- a harsh position that the White House cannot make public for diplomatic reasons, even though the President now understands that he should have listened to his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and that he attributed too much importance to the meeting in Bratislava.”
"Washington Accuses IAEA: It’s Not Fulfilling Its Duty On Iran"
An editorialist in center-right daily Il Giornale commented (3/3): “The United States raises its voice with Iran on the issue regarding the Islamic regime’s presumed surreptitious quest for nuclear weapons. And Tehran responds with equally sharp tones…. ‘The Security Council has the authority to...peacefully and successfully resolve the issue,’ stated Ambassador Jackie Sanders, U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA.... The Iranian regime, conscious of the fact that it is coming under the scrutiny of George W. Bush, who is not excluding the possibility of a military attack, reacted with belligerent and rhetorical tones.... Iran is not giving in to pressure and continues its strategy of buying time.”
"A Stick And Carrot In The Bazaar"
Alberto Negri observed in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (3/1): “If the likely scenario is confirmed, these talks with Iraq will be one of the first concrete results of the new transatlantic agreement. Last week’s conversations in Europe appear to have convinced Bush that a united front in the carrot and stick approach--if Iran doesn’t respect its commitments--is the most effective choice at this point. Therefore, the United States changes its tune. In a surprise move, the White House may well decide to join Europe...in offering incentives to Iran in exchange for an agreement to give up its uranium enrichment program.... This move has two advantages. First of all, it constitutes an effective rapprochement to countries like France and Germany that opposed the Iraqi invasion. Then if negotiations with Iran were to fail, this time around the United States would not be seen as wanting to disrupt diplomatic initiatives, making it easier for it to form a common front with the Europeans at the Security Council in case of a resort to sanctions.”
"Iran, Putin Defy Bush -- Agreement On Nuclear Issue"
Paolo Mastrolilli commented on the front page of centrist, influential La Stampa (2/28): “In the Bratislava meeting, Putin and Bush seemed to have reached a common position on Iran and the nuclear question; instead a few days later Moscow announced an agreement to provide nuclear fuel to Tehran for the opening of the first Iranian nuclear plant in mid-2006. Moscow’s decision defies Washington and worries the entire West.... Washington appears ready to opt for a hard line and could ask for Russia’s suspension from the G-8.... Washington is giving them time, because it has chosen not to denounce Iran during this week’s IAEA meeting. But if in three months’ time it does not produce concrete results regarding the end of uranium enrichment...the Americans will push to take the issue before the UN Security Council and impose sanctions against Tehran. This could pave the way to a new confrontation like the one in Iraq.”
"Bush Doesn’t Stop Putin: Russian Fuel To Iranian Plant"
Centrist Corriere della Sera stated (2/28): “The hoped backtracking did not occur. Despite American opposition and EU misgivings, yesterday Russia signed an agreement to furnish Iran with nuclear fuel for its controversial plant in Bushehr.... In reality, negotiations between Russians and Iranians...overcame a number of obstacles. In addition to the United States’ opposition, which was reiterated by Bush in talks with President Putin in Bratislava last Thursday, the EU is also engaged in negotiations with Tehran in order to ward off the military use of the Bushehr nuclear plant, which has been under the close scrutiny of U.S. intelligence. Israel has also expressed concern for the acceleration of the ayatollahs' nuclear program. The agreement had been postponed numerous times by Moscow, which was perhaps waiting for negotiations between Europeans (France, Germany and Great Britain) and Iranians to bear some fruit.... That’s not how things went. But White House pressure did not make a difference.... The game is still open. Western governments are concerned that Tehran may obtain the capacity to ‘enrich’ uranium on its own: a possibility that yesterday’s agreement certainly doesn’t discourage.”
RUSSIA: "Russia Out To Restore Influence In The Middle East"
Vladimir Skosyrev contended in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2/18): "As Washington turns up the heat and threatens Iran and Syria with an invasion, Russia is expanding ties with them in a bid to restore its influence in the Middle East.... After its failures in Ukraine and the Caucasus, the Kremlin may have decided to respond asymmetrically where Washington has had to pay a high price for the Iraq adventure. Given his desire to maintain a strategic dialogue with the United States, Putin will have to show maximum diplomatic agility.... So far, it is anybody's guess whether he will succeed in convincing [President Bush] that upholding Russia's interests in the oil-rich Middle East does not mean encouraging forces that destabilize the situation there."
AUSTRIA: "Squaring The Iranian Circle"
Gudrun Harrer opined in liberal daily Der Standard (3/4): "...The three European countries, Britain, France and Germany, which are trying to get Iran to sell its weapons option, so to speak - namely its uranium enrichment program - are looking to square the circle here. They have to be ready to meet Iran's requirements, but only to the degree the US is prepared to tolerate. Apparently, there's been some movement on the issue lately. Recent signals from Washington seem to indicate greater support for the European efforts. For some days now, there's been talk that the US might refrain from further blocking the process that could lead to Iran's accession talks with the WTO. The whole affair would take years, anyway. For the Iranians, however, such a beginning is an important step towards integration. Let no one say this has nothing to do with security. The transfer of technology and the supply with nuclear material are, perhaps, even tougher issues. If the Iranians abandon nuclear enrichment (without actually giving up the right to such programs, just the activity as such) they will want guarantees in return, in the form of fuel rods they will no longer be able to produce themselves . The Americans' frown over the Russian-Iranian contract on the delivery of nuclear fuel rods for the Bushehr power plant is an indication of how the US might react to the Europeans giving Iran similar guarantees. Thus, we can only hope that the Europeans, who are rightfully criticizing Tehran for its somewhat sloppy attitude towards meeting its obligations, do not make Iran any promises they won't, in the end, be able to keep themselves."
CROATIA: "Iran is Playing With Bush's Nerves"
Government-owned Vjesnik (3/4) commentator Kresimir Fijacko noted: “Iran’s credibility has been totally lost by now; even though the European troika still wants to hope that (American) preventive attack can still be avoided, fact remains that Iran is for now doing everything it possibly can to increase American doubts. Europeans are disappointed with the Iranian choice: trade, economic and political concessions offered to Iran if it gave up the nuclear program seemed irresistible, but Iran has rejected the ‘carrot,’ believing, I guess, that the ‘stick’ was just a bluff, and has chosen to continue with the nuclear program. Europe is now looking toward the U.S.: will Washington put another ‘carrot’ on the table? At the same time, Washington is looking toward Europe, and it expects it to agree to the ‘stick,’ should Iran stick to its guns.”
DENMARK: "U.S. Foreign Policy On The Right Course"
David Trads wrote in center-left Politiken (2/28): "If the U.S. should not be able to prevent North Korea and Iran attaining nuclear weapons, it seems that the 35-year-old non-proliferation treaty will collapse and as many as 30 countries could initiate nuclear programs. Future American foreign policy will be focused on preventing this worst case scenario and continuing to fight terror. As we have witnessed, the war on terror has had some notable successes. Who would have thought, only a few years ago, that we would see democratically elected governments in Kabul and Baghdad?"
IRELAND: "Iran-Russia Deal To Fuel Tensions With U.S."
Daniel McLaughlin opined in the center-left Irish Times (2/26): “Russia agreed yesterday to supply fuel to an atomic power station in Iran that the United States suspects of being a front for a covert nuclear weapons program. The deal sent another chill through U.S.-Russia relations, just three days after President Bush used a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin to press him on the Kremlin's commitment to democracy, independent media and the rule of law. Russia and Iran signed the landmark deal at the $800 million Bushehr atomic power station, which Russian engineers have helped build and which is due to go online before the end of 2006.... Iran and Russia insist the delay was caused by technical issues, but analysts say U.S. opposition to the project caused pause for thought in Moscow. Russia insists that the deal signed yesterday obliges Iran to return all the nuclear fuel from Bushehr to Russia, so depriving Tehran of spent fuel which Washington believes it would like to reprocess to use in weapons. The White House declined immediate comment on the deal, but influential Republican senator John McCain demanded swift sanctions against the Kremlin.... Britain, France and Germany are representing the European Union in talks aimed at persuading Iran to abandon its own uranium enrichment program in return for trade and regional security benefits. Many influential people in Washington, however, would like to see Iran brought before the UN Security Council to face possible sanctions.”
NETHERLANDS: "Iranian Nuclear Fuel"
Influential, independent NRC Handelsblad judged (2/28): "It is in Russia's own interest to make sure Iran returns all used nuclear material. Being one of the five nuclear powers, Russia will not gain anything from having another nuclear power close to its southeast borders. The Russian deal with Iran should not be reason to kick Russian President Putin out of the G-8 talks as influential Senator McCain suggested.... For that would raise the question as to what President Bush and President Putin have achieved last week at their summit. Nevertheless, this all does not mean that suspicion regarding Iran is not justified.... The U.S. government is increasing pressure by threatening to take Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions. During his visit to European leaders last week, Bush denied that he wanted to attack Iran but he added that everything is possible. Nevertheless he is prepared to work closer with Europe and that is a wise thing to do.... It continues to be difficult to keep Iran under control as long as it does not abide by the treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.... The official nuclear powers have been joined by unofficial nuclear powers... proliferation of nuclear technology has made the world a dangerous place. Nuclear power America cannot resolve this on its own but needs legitimacy and support from non-nuclear powers to execute a more effective regime against proliferation of nuclear weapons."
SPAIN: "Nuclear Iran"
Business daily Gaceta de los Negocios wrote (3/1): "It seems that a common interest in the fight against Islamic terrorism does not make up for the different strategic interests of Russia and the U.S. Proximity to Iran and the fact that the country is at odds with Washington again offers Putin the opportunity to attain the objective of Russian foreign policy since the 19th century: to put the old kingdom under its protectorate.... Russia...is ignoring the agreement of non proliferation.... This way it shows that its specific interests are above international stability or its future relations with the U.S. Only the superpower seems interested and able to take into account balance requirements and keep effective pressure on problematic states. Meanwhile...[the EU's] hesitant attitude and inability to take firm decisions are leaving it without any role of any kind in the agreement.... In short, only U.S. pressure can make the Iranians hesitate regarding their nuclear military purpose. In this sense, and again, the only possible presence of Europe will be in supporting U.S. action. But reluctantly and after giving signs of inability for more than one year."
ISRAEL: "Time Is Of The Essence"
Commentator Guy Bechor wrote in the pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/3): "The news that emanated from President Bush's entourage during this trip to Europe is not encouraging. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. Administration has for the time being abandoned its militant approach vis-a-vis Iran's nuclearization, and it prefers instead to offer the Iranians a gift, if they cease their efforts to develop nuclear weapons, Bush himself has said: 'Iran is not Iraq,' and 'Democracy is just beginning'.... [Severe] forecasts [about the Iranian nuclear program] are intolerable. If the foot-dragging and the light treatment continue, those predictions could result in an irremediable strategic threat that would thoroughly change the balances of power and nuclearization in the entire world. The U.S. must urgently understand that this is a classical case of the necessity of prevention."
"Iran: The Moment Of Truth"
David Horovitz wrote in conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (2/25): "For a few frenzied hours on February 16, TV news shows worldwide carried hysterical reports of an apparent attack on an Iranian nuclear facility, with speculation focusing primarily on the U.S. and secondarily on Israel as the responsible party. Only hours earlier, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom had asserted that Tehran would have the know-how to build a nuclear bomb within six months. Within a very short time, the reports were being corrected.... The panic, plainly, was over. Except that the panic isn't over. It was merely premature. The moment of truth hasn't yet arrived. But it's not far off now.... Under the outdated 1960s rules on non-proliferation, nations can legitimately get exceptionally close to nuclear arms--three weeks to three months from the bomb. That's where Japan is right now.... Iran is the most dangerous beneficiary of this untenable state of affairs.... Iran is clearly not solely an Israeli problem, and Israel can derive no benefit from expropriating it. The fact is that if Iran goes nuclear, the Middle East goes nuclear because other countries jump in. The 1960s nuclear order goes down the tubes altogether and the world becomes a hugely more dangerous place.... Underpinning that premature hysteria of 10 days ago is the fact that there is only one answer to the question of whether Israel is reconciled to a nuclear Iran. And the answer is no."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Iran Must Not Be Another Iraq"
The liberal Age of Melbourne held (3/2): “Support for proposals to offer Iran trade incentives might land President George Bush in a domestic political storm about 'legitimizing' the government in Tehran and 'rewarding' bad behavior. But the Europeans fear the talks will fail if the U.S. maintains its stand-off attitude. Even setting aside concerns about the U.S. and its allies being overextended in Iraq, closer diplomatic engagement with Iran is infinitely preferable to the high-risk military strategy that was applied to Iraq.... Iran now presents a litmus test of the second-term Bush administration's professed willingness to listen to its allies, to act on a basis of alliance, not allegiance. If the U.S. believes, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asserted, that 'a diplomatic solution is in our grasp,' diplomacy must be given every chance. There is a lingering fear, in both Iran and Europe, that the Bush administration's ultimate objective is regime change. In such a climate of suspicion, committed diplomacy involving all parties is the best means of short-circuiting the insane game of chicken that led to the Iraq war.”
CHINA: "Can The U.S. Win Two Wars At The Same Time?"
Zuo Jianxiao commented in the official Communist Party Global Times (2/21): “Currently the U.S. is taking a tough stand against the DPRK and Iran. Recently U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Myers emphasized that the U.S. military has the capability to deal with two wars in two regions at the same time; however, some experts doubt this claim. There are several good reasons to doubt General Myers’ claim: first, U.S. troop levels are already strained, as they currently face double-pressure from domestic security and the Iraq war.... Second, there is no international or domestic support for a war against either North Korea or Iran. Third, Iran and North Korea would not be pushover opponents like Iraq and Afghanistan.... Myers broached the topic because he wants to exaggerate U.S. military capabilities. His goal is to deter North Korea and Iran.”
CHINA (HONG KONG, SAR): "Big Carrot Needed For Iran To Drop Nuclear Ambitions"
The independent South China Morning Post commented (3/1): "Russia's agreement to sell nuclear fuel to Iran no doubt complicates the efforts to curb the Middle Eastern country's nuclear ambitions. And it is a diplomatic blow to the U.S. administration of George W. Bush, who just last week met Russian President Vladimir Putin to lobby against the deal.... The best hope for resolving the matter was, and still is, the European-led negotiations now under way. For all of its bluster, the U.S. is in no position to call a military strike on Iran. There is no guarantee that such an attack would eliminate all of Iran's nuclear sites, some of which may be hidden. What's more, it might strengthen the hand of the country's ruling clerics. The negotiations have not been a resounding success so far, this is true. A temporary suspension of enrichment activity is set to expire in a few months, and Iran has pledged to hang on to its right to develop nuclear fuel for civilian purposes. If the aim is to persuade Iran to drop all of its nuclear programs and accept a broad inspection regime, the incentives will have to be strong. Germany, France and Britain have identified economic and political privileges to be extended in an agreement. What remains is for the U.S. to give its explicit backing, something that has been missing so far and which is required for a viable deal."
INDONESIA: "Iran’s Maneuver Against The U.S."
Independent Indo Pos commented (3/7): “After disregarding U.S. pressure last week over its nuclear program with Russia, Iran over the weekend threatened to continue its uranium enrichment program, should the U.S. bring the issue to the UNSC.... What can be understood from Iran’s threat? First, there is still a country that dares not give in to U.S. arrogance.... Second Iran understands well that the U.S. and Western Europe are currently increasingly dependent on alternative energy to oil, nuclear in this context. In other words, Iran’s ruling elite believe that Washington will not find finishing off Iran as easily as it did against Iraq. Unlike Iraq, Iran has much better economic relations with Western Europe and it does not show hostilities against them.”
"Iran, Rocked By Earthquake, Discussed By Bush In Europe"
Leading independent daily Kompas commented (2/24): “Indeed, we do not see any relations between the earthquake in Zarand, Iran and Bush’s statement in Brussels. Surely, there must be a different attitude in dealing with an enormous natural phenomenon and international geopolitics. But it is our expectation that despite the different attitudes between Iran and the Western countries, the U.S. in particular, on nuclear programs, they will somehow reach a common view. Regardless of the U.S. political bias and interests, we view that all parties should develop a commitment to eliminating WMD because we share with those who believe that the more such weapons proliferate, the bigger the chance to use them.”
SINGAPORE: "Iran, Be Careful"
The pro-government Straits Times opined (2/22): "United States President George W. 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 dangerous. Unlike Iraq...Iran is likely to respond to a pre-emptive attack on its nuclear facilities.... What 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 disastrous 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 Tehran's."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
PAKISTAN: "Iranian Threat To Make Oil A Weapon"
An editorialist in sensationalist, Karach-based Urdu-language Ummat wrote (3/7): "Iran has threatened that if its nuclear program was taken to the UN Security council then international oil crises would emerge. Iran is an important member of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It is the number two major oil producing country. Its impact on the global oil market is established. If the latest Iranian threat is materialized then the world would confront enormous problems. The poor of the world would be hard pressed to make both their ends meet. On the one hand the United States is stopping the world from using cheaper sources of energy thereby forcing it to use oil and on the other hand is poking its nose in every region of the world to occupy the oil reserves."
"Nuclear Program And Iran’s Latest Announcement"
Center-right Urdu daily Pakistan opined (3/7): "Hasan Rohani, Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Authority has warned that if the U.S. takes the nuclear program issue to the Security Council, it would create an international oil crisis, and Iran would start preparing nuclear fuel again.... The issue (between Iran and America) must be resolved through diplomatic means. Pakistan had offered to play a mediatory role in this regard. Iran and the U.S. must take advantage of this offer."
Leading, mass-circulation Urdu-language daily Jang opined (3/1): "The United States and Israel have no right to express their reservations and doubts about the recently concluded agreement between Iran and Russia regarding nuclear cooperation. Only the IAEA has the right to express any opinion about it whether the agreement is right or not. The IAEA would have to take into consideration the total cooperation extended so far by Iran and total non-cooperative attitude of Israel regarding the inspection of its nuclear installations. The U.S. leadership and senators demanding economic sanctions against Russia should demonstrate some wisdom because it is only the IAEA to hold any opinion about this agreement."
"Next Targets Of Satanic Forces"
Sensationalist, Karach-based Urdu-language Ummat concluded (3/1): "The United States and its allied forces have made a comprehensive program to divide the Muslim world into two and to knock them down through violence and attacks. On the one hand in order to occupy South Asia and Far East through occupying Afghanistan, India is being made the dominating force of the region and on the other hand Israel is the apple of American eye in the Middle East and after destroying Iraq, the U.S. administrations has now started threatening Iran and put Israel after Syria."
The center-right Nation editorialized (2/26): "Just as the U.S. diplomatic forces are weaving their webs around Iran, General Musharraf has started to distance Pakistan from its beleaguered neighbor by implying that should the U.S. resort to military action in Iran, Pakistan would remain neutral. Given the cordial Pak-Iran history, his statement is not likely to sit well with people on either side of the border. Since the two countries share not only a common boundary, but also close social and cultural bonds, the president should have been more careful in his choice of words. The statement is ill timed also because it follows Mr. Aziz’s heartening assurances of support during his visit which ended just the day before."
"Is Iran A Threat To The U.S.?"
An editorial in the Lahore's liberal English-language Daily Times stated (2/19): "A CIA report says Iran is the next danger for the United States. That’s true. But what the report didn’t mention is the rather simple fact that Iran might also consider the U.S. its next biggest threat. Indeed, it does, and therefore it is in the process of doing things, including trying to develop a nuclear-weapons capability, which could destabilize the entire region on its east and west. The logic of this should be clear to experts in the U.S. If a superpower threatens to run amok, the smaller states have no option but to capitulate or put up a fight.... It is difficult too for Pakistan because Iran is also important for it at multiple levels. The real issue, in any case, is for the Bush administration to revisit its own approach on non-proliferation. The regime was never equitable; neither can it ever be. It was only by eschewing the use of force that the nuclear weapon states could get others to not go nuclear. The administration’s penchant for using force has upset that balance. It’s time to correct that.
IRAN: "Reviving Iran-U.S. Relations"
The reformist Sharq wrote (3/1): "In his interview with USA Today newspaper, Rafsanjani said that he is one of the figures who can revive Iran-U.S. relations. Americans are gradually sending positive messages to Rafsanjani's stances. Bush has openly denied the military attack on Iran.... America's government has understood the difficulty of a military attack on Iran or inflicting economic sanctions. Perhaps they are trying to use the current opportunity to revolutionize their relations with Iran."
CANADA: "Nuclear Mullahs"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (2/22): "This week, Iran emphatically rejected a European incentive to abandon development of a heavy-water reactor that could be used to enrich uranium in a nuclear weapons program. The Europeans had offered to help Iran develop a light-water reactor that would ease international fears about Tehran's bid to acquire a nuclear weapon. The mullahs would have no part of it, however, and told the Europeans to mind their own business: they and their American allies are 'playing with fire' in attempting to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions. The Europeans, according to Iran, took this message well, although that may be because it followed a far less temperate warning issued the week before that threatened that 'any invader will find Iran to be a burning hell for them.' That was clearly aimed at the United States, which has frequently hinted that military action against Iran is a possibility if the nuclear program is not scrapped. The tone of American comments, in fact, grows more ominous by the week.... President George Bush heads for Europe this weekend for a visit that is the third page of an American effort to repair relations with the French and Germans.... Europe's fears that the U.S., in confronting Iran, may follow the same pattern it set in Iraq were reinforced when Mr. Rumsfeld told a meeting of defense ministers that it is U.S. foreign policy that the goal will determine nature of any coalition--the coalition will not determine the goal. That only becomes a specific problem if the European approach fails to move Iran. The Euro-American approach to Iran works out like a good-bad cop routine, with Europe using reason and diplomacy while Washington waves a blackjack around. Although it does not seem to be a co-ordinated policy, it might possibly work. As long as neither cop wavers, the Iranians have a clear choice of which route they prefer in giving up their nuclear dreams."
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