EU-Iran nuke talks plod onas Bush keeps up pressure
28 February 2005, WASHINGTON - While the ongoing talks between the European Union's leading powers - Britain, France and Germany - have advanced only ploddingly, the Bush administration has begun signaling when its patience might wear thin.
28 February 2005
WASHINGTON - While the ongoing talks between the European Union's leading powers - Britain, France and Germany - have advanced only ploddingly, the Bush administration has begun signaling when its patience might wear thin.
Indeed, everywhere Iran's leaders look, the long arm of Washington is at work.
Russia's delay announced on Sunday in completing the Bushehr power plant is just the latest but not the only challenging news for Teheran.
During his five-day European trip last week, US President George W. Bush lobbied foreign leaders daily on the issue of Iran's nuclear programme, which the United States opposes.
Earlier in February, Washington again vetoed entry talks for Iran to eventually join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives is contemplating a further tightening of US economic sanctions against Iran.
Washington is waiting for the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to deliver its report on the Iranian nuclear programme to the IAEA's Board of Governors at a meeting in June.
"We have started consulting with other governments in anticipation of that board meeting, (to) tell them a little bit about our views of the current situation with regard to Iran," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday in Washington.
"But the emphasis that we have put on that board meeting is to say that we all need to expect, as we always do and as we always get, a good and thorough report from the director general on the state of affairs with regard to Iran."
Boucher said that Washington was hoping for a detailed report on Teheran's compliance with its own, previous pledges not to engage in uranium enrichment, which can be a step toward building a nuclear weapon.
The US and other governments will then have to make decisions.
"We'll decide what action is appropriate at that time - we all will - based on what we see in (the IAEA director general's) report," Boucher said.
The implied stick that could come down on Iran after the IAEA report in June is referral to the United Nations Security Council, which could sanction Teheran. Washington has long been threatening such a move.
A recent study submitted to members of the US Congress proposed such actions as limits on Iranian oil exports, diplomatic sanctions, reduced aviation links and cutbacks in Teheran's access to international financial institutions.
Yet it also found that the US still lacks sufficient support in the Security Council to achieve new international sanctions, especially given Iran's commercial links with veto-wielding Russia and China.
While one school of thought in the Bush administration would seriously contemplate military strikes to try to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions, another Washington camp sees hope in offering greater incentives for the Teheran regime to cooperate.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Bush last week discussed an Iran policy that would combine both carrots and sticks, and how both would be carried out, according to the president's national security advisor, Stephen Hadley.
Bush is now said to be contemplating the many ideas put forward during his European trip and consulting with his foreign policy team.
Monday's Washington Post cited "senior" US officials as saying that the Bush administration was "close to a decision" to align itself with Europeans dangling enticements for Iran's cooperation on the nuclear issue. Among them, the tastiest carrot would be letting Teheran start down the path toward World Trade Organisation membership.
Other incentives could include more formalized relations with Washington, the release of Iranian government assets frozen after the 1979 seizure and hostage-taking at the US embassy in Teheran or permits to buy spare parts for Iran's aging aircraft fleet.
Bush, his US advisors and foreign allies have a lot of intimidation and inducement to try to balance.
Subject: German news