Brokering Power; Trans-Atlantic Relations amid Ambitious Iran

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 18, 2006 | Go to article overview

Brokering Power; Trans-Atlantic Relations amid Ambitious Iran


Byline: Helle Dale, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Are the United States and Europe finally ready to face the crisis over Iran's nuclear program together?

If that is indeed the case, two factors have conspired in favor of this auspicious development in trans-Atlantic relations. One is the sheer bloody-mindedness of the Iran leadership, which has rejected every deal offered to allow Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program, but not a military one. The other is the changing political configuration among the major powers in Europe, as demonstrated by the successful visit of the new German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to Washington last week.

This week, the foreign ministries of Britain, France and Germany finally began drafting a resolution to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which meets in Vienna on Feb. 2 and 3, to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for violations of previous agreements. Such a referral is a step the Bush administration has persistently lobbied for as the first in a long process that hopefully will end up with Iran facing international isolation unless reason prevails in Tehran.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has worked overtime to agree with Europeans on a common strategy, applying the lesson from the Security Council debacle over Iraq. So far the strategy has succeeded at least in painting Iran and its ambitions as a nuclear power as the problem, not the so-called belligerence and unilateralism of the United States.

The amazing tin ear and stubbornness of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have contributed a lot to this success of this strategy. His recent statements about Israel have caused shock and disgust abroad. Not only has he publicly advocated the destruction of Israel, he has also stated that the Holocaust did not take place. And for good measure he has stated that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was something he had hoped for. The idea of this man with nuclear weapons at his disposal has brought diplomats together like nothing before.

Further, Mr. Ahmadinejad has stated that Iran has every right to become a nuclear power, and has taken moves to restart its nuclear research program. A last-ditch Russian offer (somewhat dubious in its own right) to enrich uranium on Russian soil seems to have been rejected by Tehran.

The obstacles to referring Iran to the U.N. …

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