Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The West's Patience Wears Thin with Iran's Hard Line

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The West's Patience Wears Thin with Iran's Hard Line

Article excerpt

When European nations resume talks with Iran in Vienna Wednesday over that country's nuclear ambitions, two dangerous new factors are in play. On the one hand, the patience of the Europeans and the United States with Iran is running thin. On the other hand, Iran's newly elected president has shocked a string of nations with some megalomanic pronouncements that if supported by his people would plunge Iran back into isolation. The stage is not set for compromise and consensus.

At issue is whether Iran's suspected pursuit of nuclear technology for military purposes is purely for peaceful purposes, as it claims. The European nations and the US doubt that, pointing to a string of deceptive Iranian actions, including hiding from the International Atomic Energy Agency its secret installations to enrich uranium and produce plutonium.

Britain, France, and Germany have been conducting on-again, off- again negotiations with Iran that have produced little progress and raised questions as to whether this is a delaying tactic by the Iranians. The patience of the Western negotiators is running out. In a recent Wall Street Journal article their three foreign ministers declared that if Iran continues on its present path "Central Asia and the Middle East, the world's most volatile areas, may well be destabilized."

Meanwhile Western nations have been stunned by the confrontational rhetoric of Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map," and called the Holocaust a "myth." From the foreign ministries of a string of countries have come statements terming the comments irresponsible and unacceptable.

With such hardening of opinion on both sides where do we go now? Economic packages suggested by the Europeans have failed to deter the Iranian regime from its present course. A suggestion that Iran's uranium enrichment processing could be undertaken in Russia but only to enrichment levels for fuel, and not military use, seems to have gone nowhere. If the discussions between the European nations and Iran fail to produce any more than they already have, the next step would be for Iran's intransigence to be brought before the United Nations Security Council. …

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