International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 5, 2003

September 5, 2003





**  Iran "will continue to isolate itself" if it opposes unrestricted nuclear inspections.


**  Media split over best course to follow with Tehran--taking a hard line or negotiations.


**  The "hubris of power" is blinding Iran's ruling mullahs to the inevitability of change.




No 'plausible explanation' for nuclear program--  Iranian ambitions "to be a nuclear weapons power" have "alarmed" the West.  Iran's "proximity to terrorists...makes the possible ownership" of nuclear weapons "unpredictable and dangerous."  Stating that Tehran "is racing to construct a bomb," Israel's conservative Jerusalem Post contended the "scandal is the number of supposedly responsible nations" that continue "business as usual" with the "sinister" Iranian regime.  "Encircled by nuclear powers, it is no surprise that Iran is also striving for nuclear weapons," said Germany's right-of-center Die Welt--"as the example of North Korea shows," possession of nuclear weapons makes a state "untouchable."  Having the bomb, a rightist French daily added, "is the only way for Iran to dissuade" the U.S. from "subjecting it to the same fate as Iraq" but it also prevents Iran "from being part of the international community."


Best strategy: negotiation or confrontation?--  Analysts disagreed on the most effective way to deal with the "nuclear stand-off" and other concerns about the Tehran regime.  A conservative British paper declared that the UK's policy of "constructive engagement" had "run aground on the rock" of the regime's continuing support of terrorism.  Though Iran has "a nasty habit of throwing a spanner in the works," Britain's center-left Independent suggested it was "probably still better" to pursue engagement rather than "outright confrontation, holding out the promise of better relations" if Iran cooperates over nuclear inspections.  Thailand's English-language Bangkok Post observed that "much of the world" believes it best to engage Iran "economically while encouraging democratization" since there "isn't much of an alternative" short of a "very risky" military takeover.  A rightist Pakistani outlet, though holding the U.S. had "no moral basis" to dictate to anyone about WMD, still advised Tehran, "Wisdom demands that confrontation with the U.S. should be avoided."  


'There will be change in Iran'--  Remarking that "Iran's prisons are full, young students are rebelling, a paralyzing censorship is hovering" over the arts and media, Germany's left-of-center Berliner Zeitung commented that President Khatami had indicated the Islamic system "can only be saved by making concessions."  Hopes that Khatami might be "an Iranian Gorbachev" had proved "illusory," a rightist British paper asserted.  Another European journal judged that "hardly anybody hopes that the reform majority" in Iran's parliament will achieve a "breakthough."  For the mullahs, "the preservation of power" and survival "have become the highest priority."  An Italian writer was more upbeat, noting that "Iran is the only Islamic country with a strong middle class" which is "silently but effectively trying to achieve democratic reforms."  

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 41 reports from 18 countries, August 3-September 4, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Dealing With Iran"


The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (9/4):  "The Government's policy of 'constructive engagement' with what it perceives as moderate elements in Iran has again run aground on the rock of terrorism....  The Labor Government launched its diplomatic rapprochement with Iran after the election of Mohammed Khatami, a cautious reformer, as president in 1997.  Two years later, ambassadors were exchanged for the first time since Britain severed relations after Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie....  Despite this warming of ties, Britain cannot claim to have bolstered Mr. Khatami's authority at home.  Electoral victories at all levels have not enabled the president to change Tehran's fundamental hostility to Western interests in the Middle East; democratic domestic opponents now accuse him of being in the same boat as the clerical hardliners.  The Foreign Office's hope that he could be an Iranian Gorbachev has proved illusory.  Iran has continued its terrorist operations overseas--for example, the shipment of arms for the Palestinian Authority seized by the Israelis at the beginning of last year--and has recently alarmed the West by its attempt to become a nuclear weapons power.  The last has led to a cooling of relations with London but the Government is anxious to avoid their formal downgrading.  Playing to the Labor Left's anti-Americanism, keeping in step with other European Union states, the lure of oil and gas contracts: all could persuade ministers to appease Teheran....  Given Labor's tenacious attachment to constructive engagement, it cannot be ruled out."


"The Difficulty Of Diplomacy With Iran"


The centrist Independent commented (9/4):  "Iran has always had a nasty habit of throwing a spanner in the works just as relations with the West seemed to be improving: the Salman Rushdie affair, the question of its nuclear weapons ambitions and now the spat over the extradition of its former ambassador to Argentina from Britain....  So far Britain--in contrast with Washington--has taken a lead in developing closer relations with Tehran, taking the approach that it is better to reinforce the voice of the moderates by engagement rather than confront the regime as a whole.  But that has been undermined by the clampdown on student protest in Tehran and Iran's refusal to allow UN inspectors full access to its nuclear sites.  At this stage, it is probably still better to follow the road of engagement rather than outright confrontation, holding out the promise of better relations if Iran cooperates over nuclear inspections or the threat of isolation if it does not.  The extradition issue is a side one and should be kept as such.  But if the Iranians do make it a paramount issue of principle, there is no doubt where Britain must stand.  And that is in favor of upholding the laws to which it is signatory, whatever the collateral damage."


"Another Dangerous Collision Course"


Simon Tisdall wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (9/4):  "Britain's deteriorating relationship with Iran, symbolized by yesterday's gun attack on the British embassy in Tehran, might be explained in two words: Tony Blair....  The  Foreign Office has gingerly pursued a policy known variously as constructive, critical or conditional engagement....  It cannot be said that...policy has been outstandingly successful.  But it did reduce tensions between Iran and the west.  Until now.  Britain's attempts at rapprochement gained the support of its EU partners, but not of the U.S., which eschews diplomatic relations with Tehran.  With the advent of George Bush and his post-September 11 declaration that Iran was part of the 'axis of evil', the divergence in policy widened into a gulf....  Downing Street let it be known on June 12...that Blair was 'launching a drive to put maximum international pressure on Iran' over its nuclear activities and that 'Britain's policy of engagement with Iran will be reviewed unless it curbs its nuclear ambitions'.  Blair was also said to be doubtful whether reformist President Mohammed Khatami 'still exercises any moderating influence on the hardline Islamicist (sic) regime'....  Blair had also upped the ante at the EU summit in June, presumptuously linking EU-Iran trade and other ties to the swift resolution of the west's (meaning, principally, U.S. and British) nuclear concerns....  Blair's single-handed and, one might say, unilaterally preemptive transformation of British policy on Iran seems to have been sealed during a private Downing Street dinner with Israel's Ariel Sharon in July....  For Tehran, the message was as clear as it was deliberately threatening....  As over Iraq, it seems the primary impetus behind Blair's volte face comes from his familiar desire to stick close to Bush's Washington, coupled with his own instinctive, untutored ideas about setting the world to rights....  And thus is a carefully calibrated, long-nurtured policy rendered unto dust."


"Let's Not Forget Iran And Syria, Libya's Willing Partners In Crime"


Alasdair Palmer argued in the conservative Daily Telegraph (8/17):  "Libya has now said that it 'takes responsibility for the actions of its officials.'  It seems to be as close as Col. Qadhafi will get to admitting his role in the bombing [of Pan Am 103]....  The list of guilty men who have escaped justice for their role in commissioning Lockerbie's mass murder does not end with Qadhafi: there is overwhelming evidence that both the Syrian and Iranian governments were directly involved in commissioning and planning the attack.  Ayatollah Mohtashemi--one of the Iranian government's most influential figures in 1988--was recorded as stating that Iran would avenge the accidental shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner by the U.S.S. Vincennes with a similar explosion.  The Iranians also paid Ahmed Jibril--the notorious terrorist then headquartered in Damascus--$6 million for his involvement in the bombing.  If Qadhafi is serious about owning up to responsibility for the bombing, then the least he could do would be to come clean on the involvement of the Syrians and the Iranians in the worst mass murder ever to occur on British soil.  That, however, does not seem to be a UN priority."


"The U.S. Is Starting A Nuclear Fight That Will Be Hard To Stop"


Simon Tisdall wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (8/9):  "The strange, treacherous ways of American diplomacy are...complicating [the] nuclear stand-off with Iran.   A September deadline now looms, by which time Tehran is told it must accept 'challenge' inspections of its nuclear facilities.  If not, the U.S. may seek UN sanctions and step up unilateral pressure; military options are not entirely ruled out.  Following Washington's line, and egged on by Israel, Tony Blair is turning the screw, too, threatening to block an EU trade deal and highlighting human rights issues.  Like North Korea, the Iranian government is fully aware that U.S. tactics do not stem from worries about WMD proliferation alone.  But nor does it totally dismiss western concerns.  In fact, Tehran has developed a series of not inflexible negotiating positions.  The question, once again, is whether the U.S. is really interested in finding solutions....  Although, like the Bush administration, Iran speaks with many voices, it knows it must improve relations with the west if it is to succeed in building its economy and if the aspirations of its younger generations are to be met without more trouble on the streets.  But this, of course, is exactly why some in Washington think that by hanging tough and raising the stakes, they can eventually have it all.  By continuing and possibly escalating disputes, U.S. hawks hope not merely to tame the mullahs but to topple them.  This is a potentially disastrous miscalculation, a recipe for intensifying internal and external strife.  It has little to do with arms control or encouraging civil reform from within, and a lot to do with imposing the U.S. world view from without.  This is why Iran's heated debate over UN inspections has acquired a symbolic quality.  This is why, as in North Korea, some in Iran oppose anything that smacks of concessions."


FRANCE:  "Negotiation Or The Bomb"


Charles Lambroschini opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (8/4):  “To have the bomb is the only way for Iran to dissuade George W. Bush from subjecting it to the same fate as Iraq.  But it also prevents it from being part of the international community.  Today even the EU, generally tolerant towards Tehran, is strongly condemning its push towards proliferation.  The U.S. is wagering that Iran will return to its true calling which is, like Turkey and Israel, to reshape the union of non-Arab people in the Middle East.”


GERMANY:  "The U.S.' Growing Problem--Islamic Extremists Are Infiltrating Iraq"


Rainer Hermann noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (Internet version) (8/28):  "Bremer has expressed open criticism that Iran continues to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq, that the guardians of the revolution and the Iranian secret service are working against the interests of the United States, and that supporters of Ansar al-Islam, who had fled to Iran when war broke out, are now returning to Iraq.  It is true that Iran is avoiding cooperating with Washington, but when it comes to fighting terrorism it cooperates with Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia will soon open a consulate general in the Iranian town of Maskhad, close to the border with Afghanistan.   Saudi Arabia hopes to limit escape routes for members of the al-Qaida terror network and curb their freedom of movement.  A legal agreement both sides signed in Riyadh makes it possible to extradite militant Islamists arrested in Iran to Saudi Arabia."


"Alarm Bells"


Dietrich Alexander had this to say in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/28):  "Highly enriched uranium rings the alarm bells.  The Tehran explanation is hardly plausible….  The findings of the UN weapons inspectors rather seem to prove that the Mullah regime is buying the components for the production of nuclear weapons at the global markets….  Encircled by nuclear powers, it is no surprise that Iran is also striving for nuclear weapons, since they make oneself untouchable, as the example of North Korea shows.  But Iran's proximity to terrorists...makes the possible ownership of weapons of mass destruction unpredictable and dangerous. In this situation it is hardly useful that Iran seems to be willing to sign the Additional Protocol of the NPT which allows unforeseen controls.  First, before the Protocol enters into force, one year can pass, and second, Iran insists on its sovereignty during the controls, even though the character of this monitoring instrument is to cede part of the state's sovereignty to this International Atomic Energy Agency. In any case, the whole matter does not contribute to Iran's credibility.  Tehran will continue to isolate itself if it does not allow the international community unrestricted access into its nuclear program."


"Sponsors Of Terror"


Dietrich Alexander commented in right-of-center Die Welt (8/23):  "These are bad times for nations which support terror.  After Afghanistan, if not before, this is considered a truism everywhere in the world, but apparently not in Iran.  Placed by George W. Bush on the 'axis of evil,' along with North Korea and the former Iraqi regime, the shadows of the past are now threatening to catch up with Tehran.  That the Shiite Hezbollah militia, with Iranian approval, is attacking Israel from Lebanese soil is not new, but does not yet meet the requirement of state-sponsored terrorism.  However, this line of reasoning could now be taken over by an Argentine court:  in July 1994, 85 people died in an attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires.  The trail led to the Iranian Embassy and therefore to then Ambassador Hadi Soleimanpour, today a research assistant at University of Durham in northern England.   His capture by British authorities based on an Argentine extradition request makes it clear:  Argentina is dealing with its past with the same commitment that Iran is using to conceal it.  Should the ambassador and his Iranian codefendants be found guilty--of which the investigating judge is convinced--it would also expose the Iranian regime as a sponsor of terror and belies the declarations of innocence from Tehran."


"Honesty Is Necessary"


Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf argued (8/8):  "Why does one of the oil-richest country in the world need nuclear energy?  The Iranian leadership has thus far not given a plausible answer to this question and Tehran has great difficulty finding sound reasons for its nuclear program....  The United States and Israel will not idly watch how the Mullahs produce nuclear weapons....  Tehran can still evade this dead end street--by practicing honesty."


"Building Trust"


Clemens Wergin observed in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (8/7):  “The U.S. administration still seems undecided whether to threaten Tehran or to enter into negotiations.  Europe is in a more fortunate position.  U.S.-Iranian relations have been poor for a long time, but Tehran has much to lose in its dealings with Europe--the EU is one of Tehran’s most important trading partner.  Iran might become the new test case for transatlantic relations.  The United States has the opportunity to show its trust in Europe’s ability to take action, and Europe must prove that it takes seriously the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands.”


"Circumstantial Evidence"


Martina Doering judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (8/7):  “The United States and Europe are concerned over Iran, but it is almost the only stable country in the region, with U.S. forces stationed in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.  Aided by U.S. mediators, Turkey and Israel are cooperating militarily, and hardly a day goes by without Israeli politicians in Washington announcing the need to tackle Iran after Iraq.  The Iranians feel threatened.  Some want the nuclear bomb, others do not.  Maybe the accusations against Iran are simply a way of preparing a regime change.  In the 1981 Declaration of Algiers ending the hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Washington stated that it would not get involved in Iran’s domestic matters either politically or militarily....  But Washington has ignored so many international treaties that this one should also not be a problem.”


"Presidential Warning"


Rudolph Chimelli argued in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/5):  "It is new that Iran's reform President Khatami is now warning against the development of Islamic fascism....  But the presidential warning was not an emotional appeal for resistance that could mobilize his supporters.  In his speech he remained committal, trying to strike a balance between the various groups....  Nobody expects anything else from him, and hardly anybody hopes that the reform majority in parliament will achieve a breakthrough in the remaining time of its term....  For the regime, the preservation of power and the survival in an unfriendly environment have the highest priority, they are more important than the alleviation of the economic misery and even more important than ideology.  If, in this situation, adjustments are necessary, Tehran will, in the end, be willing to do so.  This is probably a chance, may be the only one."




Dietrich Alexander remarked in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/5):  "The bankruptcy of the Mullah state seems to be unavoidable.  Since he does not have any other means, President Khatami gave vent to his annoyance and irritation with a sharp verbal attack....  It was as clear as possible and was directed against the conservative power elite around religious leader Khamenei....  The fact that Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson, the real crown witness of Iran's revolutionary power, together with moderate forces opposes the Mullahs, has created a serious credibility problem for them.  This grandson with a well-known name is accusing the Tehran regime of having betrayed his grandfather's legacy and is preparing a counterrevolution in Iraq.  Together with international accusations of Iran pursuing a secret nuclear program and of harboring leading cadres of Al Qaida, this would be enough bad news to seek constructive solutions, even for a regime that is determined to prevent its fall.  But the hubris of power has created a disastrous misinterpretation among the Mullahs.  There will be change in Iran.  The conservatives can still decide whether it will be bloody change or whether they will play a role afterwards."


"Khatami's Futile Warnings"


Marita Doering judged in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (8/5):  "Khatami used strong words.  Iran's prisons are full, young students are rebelling, a paralyzing censorship is hovering over intellectuals, the media and artists.  The people are pauperizing, and in addition there is foreign policy pressure from Washington....  That is why Khatami's words are directed to the in and outside....  He indicates to the conservative clerics that they must allow some pressure to get out of the kettle, and that the Islamic system can be saved only by making concessions.  But he also warns the opposition indirectly against an open confrontation and its implications.  The louder the calls for freedom, the more narrow-minded would be the reaction of the opponents.  But the opposition forces consider the president not only a sweet-talker but also an advocate of the religious system.  They no longer listen to him."


ITALY:  "Hidden Iran"


Claudio Gorlier penned this analysis in centrist, influential La Stampa (8/6):  “It seems to me that many Western observers are ignoring a fundamental aspect, i.e., that Iran is the only Islamic country with a strong middle class....  This middle silently but effectively trying to achieve democratic reforms, including women’s rights.  The students who march in the streets are its restless children.  The leaders of this middle class are economically strong, travel, and maintain relations abroad, including in the United States, where they enjoy low-key but concrete support.  This part of the Iranian population represents the hope for the future.  Some U.S. administration members and several U.S. economic lobbies are aware of that and I believe that they will advise Bush to think twice before attacking Iran.”


RUSSIA:  "Bolton Needs To Be Convincing"


Andrey Ivanov said in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (8/26):  "Meeting with Russia's Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev, [Undersecretary of State] Bolton may come up with a new trump card to try to persuade Russia not to sign a protocol with Iran yet....  To make that work, he must be very convincing because Russia, as well as being determined to see the work on the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear plant through, intends to take part in a tender for the second unit."


"Pyongyang's, Tehran's Possibilities Overstated"


Andrey Terekhov and Mikhail Khodaryonok commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (8/7):  "Reports about North Korea's plans to sell rockets to Iran and the danger they will pose to Europe may be an exaggeration.  What Pyongyang really has now is a bunch of stages of updated Scud rockets, at the most.  The latest in North Korea's rockets has a range of 4,000 to 6,000 km.  Hypothetically, it can reach most cities in Western Europe, if launched from Iran.  But its accuracy leaves much to be desired.  Practically, North Korean rockets can hardly hit even a big city."


POLAND:  "The Mission And Trial Of Strength"


Robert Stefanicki observed in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (8/14):  “Now that Saddam Hussein has been ousted, the main dilemma for the Bush administration’s foreign policy is as follows: should the war on terror be the U.S. priority, or would it be better to follow through and extend the 'civilizing mission’ (officially called disarmament) to include other not submissive and dangerous regimes--Iran in particular, which was placed along with Iraq in Bush’s ‘axis of evil.’  The case of al-Qaida leaders detained in Iran shows that it is not possible to realize both goals at the same time....  The trial of strength continues within the U.S. administration.  On the one side we have  ‘hawks’ under the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld, who promote...a tough course on Iran, and...on the other side we have the ‘doves’ of Secretary Colin Powell, who believe that we must talk with Iran. Should the former prevail, Washington’s critics would be assured that the war on terror that recedes into the background was only a pretext to strengthen U.S. domination of the Middle East.”


SWEDEN:  "Nuclear Weapons Threat Persists"


Per Ahlin observed in liberal, independent Dagens Nyheter (Internet version) (8/20):  "Regardless of whether or not any Iraqi [WMD] are found, it is obvious that the threat from weapons of mass destruction is greater today that it has perhaps ever been before....  Tehran will not halt its nuclear energy program, Ayatollah Ali Khameini said....  We have only 'peaceful objectives,' the Iranian leader claimed....  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a threat that can only be countered through cooperation.  But the fundamental problem, which the Swedish government has also pointed out, is not the lack of conventions, mechanisms, or programs.  It is the lack of political will on the part of the original nuclear powers to fulfill their commitment to actually start disarming in earnest.  As long as they do not take the lead, no one else will either.  And the more countries that have nuclear weapons, the greater the risk that they will be used--by these countries themselves or a terrorist group."




ISRAEL:  "Stop Financing Iran's Nuke"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/28):  "Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran is racing to construct a bomb, with the main disagreement being how long it will take and at what stage, if any, the program can be blocked.  The scandal is the number of supposedly responsible nations that will be to blame if Iran succeeds in going nuclear....  Countries which sanctimoniously preach against violence and urge peaceful resolution of all differences cannot continue business as usual with those who can only be considered as the forces of darkness in the context of present-day international affairs.  They are fully aware of the sinister nature of the Iranian regime and have been amply forewarned about its nuclear ambitions....  Is it...too much to ask that they not aid, abet, and offer succor to a regime that is a clear and present danger?  Iran can be isolated economically.  This is a measure Tehran dreads.  Those who will not desist even from aiding a dangerous foe, forfeit the moral right to berate any resolute democracy be it America or Israel which is left with no choice but to protect this region and the world."


"The Libyan Model"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (8/19):  "Now, following Libya's admission of responsibility for the [Lockerbie] attack...the UN is set to lift sanctions on Libya.  Should this be considered a victory or a surrender in the war against terrorism?....  The more immediate question, however, is why the Libyan model is not being applied to the most active, unchastened sponsors of terrorism today: Iran and Syria....  In the case of Iran, the Libyan model may not be sufficient to either prevent Tehran's rapid nuclearization or trigger regime change, but massive international sanctions are a minimal step in the right direction....  It is understandable that nations resist supporting military invasions and taking over countries, as was finally necessary in Iraq.  The alternative is not to do nothing, but rather to ban flights, recall advisers, freeze assets, and downgrade relations as was done successfully against Libya."


"Time To End The Combative Talk"


Defense commentator Reuven Pedhazur opined in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/19):  "A nuclear Iran is not an Israeli problem, but a problem for the entire West.  It is a mistake to present a nuclear Iran as a danger aimed only at Israel and to put it at the center of an Iranian-Israeli conflict....  It is time to stop waving the scarecrow arms of existential threats and it is time to stop making combative statements that sometimes create dangerous dynamics of escalation on their own.  If statements can be unnecessary and damaging, attacking the Bushehr reactor would be 10 times worse....  Even a successful attack at Bushehr might at best only postpone the development of nuclear weapons, but it is doubtful that would justify the political price Israel would be made to pay for the military action, the escalation that could be expected in the region and the elimination of American diplomatic pressure on Iran.  In addition, even if Iran completes its nuclear development program, it will still take a long time for it to miniaturize the weapon to fit as a warhead into the payload of a ballistic missile that can reach Israel.  Therefore, there is no need for urgent action."


"Sharon Prefers Quiet"


Diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (8/14):  "Israel views the Iranian nuclear project as the greatest danger to its national security.... Attacking Iran's nuclear installations would be far more complicated than the destruction of the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981.... Therefore, Israel prefers to maintain a low profile and to let the United States lead the fight against Iran's nuclearization."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Eyes And Ears"


Jihad al-Khazin commented in the pan-Arab Al-Hayat (8/3):  "Of course there is a well-known nuclear program in Iran; however, the government in Tehran emphasizes that it is for peaceful purposes and to produce electricity....  Its program is 100 percent legitimate and within the limits of international laws and the nonproliferation treaty....  The nonproliferation treaty allows any signatory to withdraw from the treaty after giving three-month notice....  This means that Iran could withdraw after it possesses enough uranium, and then it could produce nuclear weapons.  What is the solution?  Definitely there are solutions; however, threatening Iran is not one of them....  Nevertheless, President Bush is threatening it on regular basis, and since the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime his administration publicly incites the students to defy the regime.  The problem here, like any other problem in the Middle East, is not Iran; the problem is Israel and the United States, which is totally committed to a nuclear country led by a war criminal, and which announces that it will prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons and disregards Israel's possession of these weapons together with the means to send them to their targets....  The strangest thing in this issue is that the U.S. administration threatens Iran and is hostile to it, then it demands that Iran extradites leaders of the al-Qaida, whom the Iranian authorities detained after they crossed the Afghan border....  In the midst of all this, the confrontation between the United States and Iran continues. This confrontation will not result in a war similar to that on Iraq.  What facilitated the war on Iraq, in addition to all the lies that were used to justify it, was that Saddam Hussein was a dictator who was impossible to defend....  On the other hand, in Iran there is an elected president and an active parliament despite all the hindrances....   Nevertheless, the supporters of Israel are trying, and the same gang which schemed the war on Iraq and instigated the United States to wage it is planning now an action against Iran.  The names are being repeated, the media is doing the same, and the fictitious opposition is more or less similar to the previous Iraqi situation."


LEBANON:  "The Last Stop"


Columnist Sateh Noureddine wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (8/6):  “The paradox is amazing: an official delegation from the Iranian foreign ministry visits Baghdad and meets the president of the Governing Council, at the time when Khomeini’s grandson announces from Karbala secession from the religious authority in Tehran.  What is even stranger is that the above two exceptional events are taking place in Iraq which is under American occupation.  The official Iranian delegation received approval from the U.S. before it entered Baghdad and met with some members of the Governing Council, this council which has protected Khomeini’s grandson ever since he entered Iraqi territory one month ago.  There is no doubt that America is managing these two events with savvy and intelligence....  The Americans decided to contain what...appears to be an increasingly realistic approach by the Iranians.  This approach might extend in the future to Hizbullah, and others.”


UAE:  "U.S. And Iran"


Criticizing recent statements of Hussein Al Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Al Khomeini, in which he asserted that the same actions that brought down Saddam's regime could have the same result in Iran, Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab daily Akhbar Al Arab editorialized (8/10):  "Has Washington become the world's 'monster,' called to frighten and threaten regimes in order to accept any required changes?...  The U.S. does not have the solution, or else Iraq would be living in happiness, prosperity, and order.  Using America to frighten the world is a clear point that there is a policeman in the world that can provide assistance."


TUNISIA:  "Enough Of The Double Standard Policy"


Noureddine Hlaoui asserted in independent French-language daily Le Temps (8/28):  "While continuing to tolerate the existence of a frightening nuclear arsenal in the hands of Tel Aviv and by accepting to start multilateral negotiations with North Korea, which already possesses the atomic bomb, the Americans are putting unsustainable pressure on Tehran by making the worst threats to be used against the Iranians.  The AIEA Director General, Mohammed El Baradei, has recently denounced this American double standard policy.  He emphasized the fact of an American creation of 'small nuclear bombs’ on the pretext of their ability to destroy the ‘enemy’ bunkers.  Hence, while pretending to work against the proliferation of WMD, Bush and his administration don’t hesitate to produce the most sophisticated weapons."




SINGAPORE:  "U.S. Double Standard On Nukes Means Proliferation"


Senior writer Janadas Devan commented in the pro-government Straits Times (8/15):  "That happy run for non-proliferation ended in 1998, and is now being upended by North Korea and possibly Iran.  Within a few years, there may be as many as 10 nuclear powers....  The U.S. bears an enormous responsibility for this tragic reversal.  On the question of terrorists or 'rogue states' acquiring nukes, the Bush administration has articulated a commendably aggressive policy.  But on almost every other aspect of non-proliferation, it has been contradictory and hypocritical to such an extent that even the credibility of its policies towards North Korea and Iran has been affected."


THAILAND:  "Time Is Right For Dealing With Iran"


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (8/31):  “More bad news came out of Iran.  There are mounting concerns that Iran is making preparations to produce nuclear weapons and that it has been getting help from scientists from Pakistan and North Korea to do so....  There are those who think that it is unwise to deal with Iran as long as the democratically elected government led by Khatami is forced to share power with the ruling clerics.  But it seems there isn’t much of an alternative to dealing with Iran based on the realities of the situation, short of another pre-emptive military takeover, which would be very risky given the current tensions in the region and the low level of international support for the last such action in Iraq.  Much of the world is of the opinion that engaging Iran economically while encouraging democratization is the best way to go....  Clearly this is the best time to deal.  Further isolation from the international community only increases the chances that Iran will develop those weapons.”




IRAN:  "Lifting Economic Sanctions:  Iran's Least Demand"


Gholamreza Abdolvand contended in Mardom-Salari of Tehran (Internet version) (8/21):  "Although the downfall of Saddam's regime was to the benefit of the Islamic Republic, nevertheless it upset the regional security architecture and created new conditions.  The vague atmosphere has made it difficult for Iran's leaders to predict America's ensuing moves.  Nevertheless, Iran will not surrender to America's demands without any political or economic rewards....  America can propose two options.  The first is the prospect of cooperation in Iraq....  The second option is economic....  Although the Clinton administration lifted some of the sanctions, this was not welcomed by Iran because of the minimal economic interests vis-a-vis the immense political concessions.  Washington should lift all the economic sanctions, and Iran should refrain from positions that become the target of international accusations.  The reports on the arrest of al-Qaida members inside Iran harm this country's international situation.  We should admit that such approaches inflict irreparable damages on Iran's credibility and...will grant the foreign countries the necessary pretext to easily make Iran the target of their harsh accusations.  They will also prepare the ground for Iran's political isolation, to say the least, and even military attack and so on."  


"The Need For Confidence Building In Foreign Policy"


Dr. Kazem Jalali commented in Mardom-Salari (Internet version) (8/17):  "The Islamic Republic of Iran--because...the threats vis-a-vis Iran stem from the actions and strategies of the big powers and especially America--has adopted and is implementing the policy of 'achieving maximum deterrence and acquiring defensive and military readiness.'...  However, this policy can lead to security fears and concerns of other countries, and especially countries in the Persian Gulf, and they may regard Iran as a major threat.  Such concern over Iran's policy definitely conflicts with detente and regional cooperation for establishing and preserving regional security.  Meanwhile, since policy can lead to an arms race in the region, and big powers that are hostile toward Iran--powers like America and Israel--may provoke military action against Iran, in parallel with the policy of deterrence and military readiness, the Islamic Republic of Iran has unilaterally pursued a confidence-building and arms-transparency policy.  Among these actions, one can refer to Iran's voluntary membership in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and two other conventions--the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), agreements on which have been signed and are to be ratified by the Majles soon.  It would be better for Iran to continue its confidence-building and detente policy while, at the same time definitely enhance its policy of deterrence and military readiness in the said regions, as well as its global strength and influence in the new world order and to reduce the strength and influence of its actual and potential rivals in the arena of rivalries."


"Foreign Policy And Domestic Affairs"


Pro-Khatami daily Towse'eh editorialized (8/17):  "The Khatami administration has made acceptable and successful achievements in foreign policy during recent years....  The least achievement...was the creation of opportunities for meeting Iran's national interests in the world community and attaining a deserving status among the world countries.  Nonetheless, the more important to retain this status and achieve even better positions in the international community.  This matter requires us to pay attention to internal affairs and avoid behaviors that could affect the system's image in the international arena, so that developing ties with the global family would become difficult and sometimes impossible.  The matter that has today made the European Union bring 'buts' and 'ifs' in its relations with Iran and set conditions for maintaining and boosting its ties, unfortunately, is the result of behaviors being exercised inside the country, in the mold of interior policy.  Such behaviors will call into question the status of Iran in the world community.  Thus, enjoying success in foreign policy depends on attending the interior policies and by separating these two from each other will actually prevent us from achieving desirable conditions in both fields."


"Al-Qaida Equals The World's Hatred"


Ali Shirazinasab held in reformist daily affiliated with the leftist Militant Clerics Association Aftab-e Yazd (Internet version) (8/12):  "Al-Qaida is a name inevitably associated with bombs, murder and terrorist acts.  Powerful states in the world will do anything to prevent its activities, which encompass the globe from east to west, threatening their national security and harming their citizens.  Readers are well aware that the group's terrorist attacks against America in a number of countries soon gave the United States an excuse to attack any country it believed it was necessary to target, which is why many political observers have concluded that the group and its leader, Usama bin Ladin, were agents and creatures of America and its security agencies and that their activities served the aims of America....  American officials have yet to present a firm or convincing argument to contradict this....  America no longer pursues his discovery and arrest with the same determination.  At the same time it uses the pretext of the presence of such forces in countries like Iran to exert pressure, engage in negative propaganda and threaten military attack.  Unfortunately the position of certain Iranian officials on al-Qaida forces has been occasionally contradictory and even helped create further problems.  First a number of officials declared that no member of the group was in Iran and that any such operative arrested in Iran would be extradited to his own country.  But others have said that we must use the presence of al-Qaida elements to haggle and extract concessions, and it is clearly mentioned at times that they would not be returned to their respective countries of origin.  Given America's increasing pressures against our country and with the world's unending hatred of al-Qaida, irresponsible remarks might well exacerbate pressures on our country and make it a victim of their harmful presence."


"Iran And The Issue Of The Supplemental Protocol"


Kabek Khabiri wrote in Iran of Tehran, pro-Khatami morning daily published by the Islamic Republic News Agency (8/6):  "Iran has logical demands that are among the natural rights of this country.  The right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is a right of which no country could or should be deprived....  The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty...emphasizes helping the member-states use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  The best means that could meet Iran's interests seems to be diplomacy....  We must be able to raise our reasons for logical interaction with the agency and, as much as possible, change the current threats into opportunities.  In addition, withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is not as easy in practice as it seems in words.  Iran should follow a step-by-step policy to enjoy opportunities, while coping with the restrictions.  This policy demands delicate, professional diplomacy that completely paves the way for the game and the bargaining.  We must not create doubts of passiveness by hasty reactions.  What matters here is the best way to meet national interests, not the best way to lose them."


"Worn-Out Accusations"


Mojtaba Hoseyni held in pro-Khatami Towse'eh: (Internet version) (8/4):   "Iran has continuously announced that any al-Qa'ida member who enters Iran will be promptly arrested and deported....  The Americans' greatest problem in dealing with Iran is their ignorance towards the Iranian people and their priorities.  This people and this elected religious regime have continuously recognized popular support as the regime's main support and insist upon it.  Therefore, this regime will never need to use means that would undermine its popular support and weaken its foundations.  All of the efforts of this regime are focused on preserving its independence and glory, and it will not tolerate any pressures along this path.  The only cause for concern is the unpopular actions that certain groups and institutions take, which can harm the regime's popularity.  The use of such worn-out words by the Americans shows that their knowledge about Iran and Iranians is lessening by the day."


PAKISTAN:  "Obstruction For American Designs"


Nusrat Mirza commented in the second largest Urdu daily, Nawa-e-Waqt (9/4):  "After Afghanistan and Iraq, America faces difficulties in its adventurism against Iran....  One of America’s problems in the campaign against Iran is that its credibility has been tarnished [in Iraq].  The information that the U.S. administration gave to Americans or the world at large turned out to be false....  If President Bush indulges in adventurism against Iran by leveling same kind of allegations (as against Afghanistan and Iraq) then he would not be in a position to have the American public acquiesce to the proposition of attacking Iran....  However, President Bush may attack Iran in order to make the event a steppingstone for his success in the coming presidential election; it would be a mistake, but who would punish a superpower for the mistake."


"India’s Share In Iran’s Nuclearization"


The Lahore-based liberal English daily, Daily Times asserted (8/25):  "The latest news from the United States is that India too is part of a global enterprise to arm Iran with nuclear weapons.  An intelligence source in Washington, seeking to counter accusations made against Pakistan, has charged that Indian nuclear experts are working in a number of nuclear enrichment plants in Iran and many Iranian scientists are being trained in the Indian nuclear facilities in Bangalore and Hyderabad....  In January this year there was news that India and Iran had signed a secret defense agreement providing for the stationing of Indian troops on the Iranian soil in case of war....  On the other hand, given the growing Indo-Iranian strategic partnership, it is feasible that the Indians are selling it for good money.  The first alarm about India selling nuclear reactors to Iran was raised as far back as 1991."


"Iran's Nuclear Program"


The Islamabad rightist English daily, Pakistan Observer held (8/8):  "The United States is exerting undue pressure on Iran to dispense with its nuclear facilities, which Iran is insisting are for power generation and for peaceful purposes.  Iran has repeatedly said that it has no desire to acquire nuclear weapons as it has no hegemonic ambitions.  Yet the Bush administration has despicably stepped up its vicious campaign against Iran after Iraq’s occupation....  History bears testimony to the fact that it is the U.S. alone, which had used nuclear technology for destruction of humanity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the sake of military victory and political hegemony.  It has, as a matter of fact, no moral basis to dictate other countries not to acquire nuclear technology, since it is guilty of committing the crime of using atom bombs against Japan in 1945 to force its military surrender.  At the same time, however, it will be advisable for the Iranian authorities to agree to non-intrusive UN inspection of its facilities to end the Washington-Tehran row.  Wisdom demands that confrontation with the U.S. should be avoided as its leadership is not willing to listen to reason in the pursuit of its military and political objectives, especially against the Muslim world."




ARGENTINA:  "The Ghost Of Violence As A Backdrop"


Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading Clarin opined (8/25):  "Has Argentina been threatened in a veiled way by Iranian violence?  One should wonder this after President Khatami's public warning that it will promote 'strong action' in reaction to the recent arrest in London of former Iranian ambassador to Buenos Aires, Hadi Soleimanpour....  Tehran has already cancelled most of the most relevant elements of its historically fragile bilateral ties with Argentina....  Only a direct rupture of diplomatic ties is still pending but should not be dismissed....  Perhaps this unlucky episode is showing the risk of leaving open a legal conflict between two countries that have been in the political and judicial limbo of a lack of definition for too long.  Even when it is true that Iran refuses to clearly answer the obscure points of the attack on the AMIA [Jewish Community Center], it is also true that the successive Argentine administrations and courts have swayed between protecting Tehran and charging allegations against it that had never been sustained by believable evidence....  Khatami has also publicly attacked the UK authorities that have arrested the former Iranian ambassador in response to the claim made by judge Galeano, which places us in an additionally uncomfortable company.  The UK, along with the U.S., are the two countries having most serious offenses pending with the Islamic world, particularly after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq."


MEXICO:  "Islamic Democracy"


Alfonso Elizondo wrote in independent El Norte (8/4):  "There are many factors that have impeded the development of the 'Islamic democracy' concept in most of the Islam world.  Partly because of the West’s interference, partly due to religious fanaticism, but overall, because of the West’s fear about Islamic governments....  Unfortunately, due to bad counseling and a lack of culture from the U.S. experts in Islamic affairs, U.S. diplomacy has not attempted to establish a cultural or religious liaison with any of these countries, so that there is a refusal in all these countries toward anything that proceeds from the West, which grows day by day....  Bush and his counselors have been wanting to believe that this summer's phenomena in Iran are the expression of a collision between Islamic theocracy and U.S. democracy, that thanks to its value and wisdom it has penetrated Iran’s youth; nothing is more distant from reality.”


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