U.S. Seeks Allies Against Iran


Richard Moore


New York Times
September 10, 2005

Wider U.S. Net Seeks Allies Against Iran's Nuclear Plan

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 - Stymied in its effort to rally a
worldwide coalition to press Iran , the Bush administration
has opened an unusual diplomatic struggle with Russia ,China
and India to have Iran's suspected nuclear weapons activities
brought before the United Nations Security Council for
possible sanctions.

But the administration's efforts face an uphill battle,
endangering its longtime goal of stopping what Western experts
say is Iran's pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

Earlier this week, both Russia and India rebuffed the United
States and its European allies, saying they opposed sending
the issue to the Council at this time. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said Friday, however, that she and President
Bush would try to change their minds at United Nations
meetings next week.

"We need leadership on this," Ms. Rice said at a State
Department news conference, citing Russia, China and India as
vital potential partners in telling Iranian leaders to "live
up to their international obligations" to suspend uranium
conversion and enrichment.

Iran suspended these activities last year but resumed them
last month, rejecting as inadequate the West's offer of
incentives in return for Iran's pledge to stop uranium
conversion and enrichment permanently.

Ms. Rice's comments reflected a sense of growing urgency over
Iran, in part because of what American and European diplomats
say are indications that it has recently accelerated
activities that the West says are a precursor to making
weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

At the moment, however, opposition to further pressure on Iran
is widespread among the 35 countries on the board of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations
watchdog, where by tradition an issue is not referred to the
Security Council without a broad consensus.

Without that support, it would be easier for Russia or China
to veto any Security Council action, Western diplomats fear.

France ,Britain ,Germany and the leadership of the European
Union all favor referring the issue to the Security Council
and plan to demand that the board act at its next meeting, on
Sept. 19.

But not only India and Russia are opposed to the referral; so
are the countries in a bloc of other nations, led by Malaysia
, and including Brazil and South Africa , which belong to the
so-called nonaligned movement. China has not indicated its
preference, but several diplomats say it would  have trouble
defying the nonaligned bloc.

"This is an I.A.E.A. matter and should be resolved here in
Vienna, not at the United Nations Security Council," Rajmah
Hussain, the Malaysian ambassador to the agency, said in an
interview. "We do not want to precipitate a crisis."

Lacking a consensus, the United States and its European allies
have shifted strategy and are now trying to get the matter
referred to the Security Council by a simple majority of the
agency's board, a step that officials in Vienna say is without
precedent. North Korea was referred to the United Nations, for
example, by  consensus.

The developing nations have been swayed in part by
blandishments from Iran, like energy supply contracts, many
diplomats say. But they are also supporters of Iran's right to
have complete control over its civilian nuclear reactors, a
right that the West says Iran has forfeited because of
evidence that it hid its activities from inspectors for many

The Bush administration has been demanding for two years that
Iran be penalized because of its failure to disclose these
activities. But winning agreement for sanctions has been
difficult because while a succession of international
inspectors have criticized Iran for failing to be candid, they
have also failed to turn up concrete evidence of weapons

In a meeting with foreign reporters and academics on Monday,
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said he agreed that Iran
needed to be kept from making nuclear arms but added that it
was premature to take up the matter at the United Nations. The
Indian foreign minister, K. Natwar Singh, visited Tehran last
weekend and afterward Indian officials said they agreed with

"We don't want to end up in a confrontation with Iran," a
senior Indian official said in an interview from New Delhi.
"We're concerned that if Iran is pushed too far, it will turn
its back on the whole dialogue with the Europeans on this."

A senior State Department official said Friday, however, that
India and Russia might still be persuaded in coming days, when
Ms. Rice and Mr. Bush plan to step up the pressure.

"We'd like to have a consensus but technically you don't need
one," said the official. "There's a very intense diplomatic
campaign going on, and the Europeans are fanning out across
the globe. We haven't given up on this."

India's rebuff of the administration has been acutely felt.
Over the summer, the United States offered India help on
civilian nuclear matters, saying it would waive a ban on such
help required because of India's nuclear weapons. Now the
United States is pressing India to cooperate on Iran to avoid
having Congress void that deal.

The European-American strategy  has been dealt other blows
recently, including the election of a hard-liner as Iran's
president and a report from the I.A.E.A. on Sept. 2 that was
viewed as a mild rebuke of Iran but not the "smoking gun" some
had hoped would persuade wavering countries.

American officials maintain that they have already won a major
argument, convincing the world that Iran's activities are
improper even if no immediate action is taken.

"The Iranians have miscalculated if they think they have broad
support for what they are doing," R. Nicholas Burns, under
secretary of state for political affairs, said in an
interview. "They do not have a significant number of countries
rushing to their defense. What is likely to happen at the
I.A.E.A. and beyond is a ratcheting up of international
pressure on Iran."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

If you find this material useful, you might want to check out our website
(http://cyberjournal.org) or try out our low-traffic, moderated email 
list by sending a message to:

You are encouraged to forward any material from the lists or the website,
provided it is for non-commercial use and you include the source and
this disclaimer.

Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
blog: http://harmonization.blogspot.com/

"Escaping The Matrix - 
Global Transformation: 
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
cj list archives:

newslog list archives:
Informative links: