As British Take Over Talks, Iran Plays Taqiyya (Taghieh)
Benny Avni, The New York Sun:
Iran helped to invent modern-day terrorism, sometimes called asymmetrical warfare. Now the mullahs are engaging in asymmetrical diplomacy.I missed this report a few days back.
Applying the Shiite notion of Taqiyya - hiding one's beliefs to confuse adversaries - they told European negotiators what they wanted to hear, all the while advancing their nuclear aspirations. The Iranians dropped the Europeans, breaking off talks, once their research had reached a key stage.
"While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan," a former Iranian negotiator, Hassan Rohani, said in a speech that the New York Times quoted last week.
Members of the international community publicly decry Iran's actions and duplicity, but are divided and confused about how to stop the country's march toward obtaining nuclear weapons. Publicly, Tehran hems and haws, but it is quietly sure in its quest.
At a New York meeting of Foreign Ministry planners today, Britain is expected to propose a new track of diplomatic negotiations. The Russians are exhausted after their recent visit to the Iranian diplomatic equivalent of a carpet bazaar. Moscow had only joined the negotiation game after Britain, France, and Germany gave up on years of futile efforts. Now, to avert military confrontation, Britain wants to give talking another try.
Unlike during the early days of European negotiations, no one believes Iran's declarations that it only wants peaceful nuclear capabilities. Even Beijing and Moscow now "know exactly what Iran is doing," American Ambassador John Bolton has said.
"If I were as near to Iran as Russia is, I'd certainly want to get this resolved quickly," he told reporters Friday.
But although negotiations on the so-called "Russian option" - joint uranium enrichment outside Iran's borders - stalled, Moscow still wants to avoid confrontation with Tehran. Wary of the Security Council, where punitive measures can be taken whenever the mullahs are caught cheating, Russia prefers that only the professionals of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog deal with Iran.
Most council members are ready to adopt, as early as Tuesday, a policy that would start the path toward possible sanctions. That is exactly what Moscow fears. As its U.N. ambassador, Andrey Denisov, said Friday, "In such a pace we'll start bombing in June."
Britain expressed its concerns about Iran's nuclear aspirations, but Foreign Minister Jack Straw also said that the military option is "off the table." It was left to President Chirac of France to talk about a "possible nuclear answer" to the Iranian dilemma.
France has emerged as the hard-liner among the so-called European Three, which also includes Britain and Germany. French diplomats at the United Nations regularly brief reporters about the Iranian nuclear threat, which they warn could materialize "in months." After talks with Paris officials, Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, yesterday told the Cabinet in Jerusalem to expect yet another tough statement by Mr. Chirac tomorrow, according to Israeli press reports.
And in Washington, while officially declaring that one way or another the mullahs will be prevented from becoming a nuclear power, some in the administration anonymously wonder out loud around eager reporters: "Suppose we just let Iran have the bomb?"
Well, only if the world is willing to "change the power balance in the region" and "lead to the full collapse of the Nonproliferation Treaty." Or "renew tension between Iran and some other key Arab states" in a lead-up to a major nuclear race in the region.
These are the words of Secretary-General Annan's special envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen. Mr. Roed-Larsen, Turtle Bay's only sure-handed Middle East authority, spoke last week in Beijing with China's news agency Xinhua on the first leg of a trip around the world, which he set out on because he believes that each flashpoint in the region could ignite all others.
Diplomatically isolated Iran is threatening to unleash its terror ally Hezbollah, and last week Mr. Annan called President al-Assad of Syria, relaying Mr. Roed-Larsen's concerns about possible flare-ups on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Unlike their diplomacy on Iraq in 2003, Britain and France now seem to have traded roles and some U.N. officials are showing a deeper understanding of the threat than some of their counterparts in Washington. READ MORE
And as the diplomatic world wallows in indetermination, Iran has all but let fall Taqiyya-informed pretensions. It is determined to become a nuclear power and make the American-led war against terrorism a bit more symmetrical.