Friday, July 07, 2006

Iran's New Gambit

Khaleej Times Online: Editorial
The crucial talks between the European Union and Iran on Teheran’s nuclear programme and incentives aimed at ending the stand-off have been postponed for a week, giving no immediate official reason for the delay.

Iran, while responding to a call by the G-8 countries insists it needs time until August to assess an international offer of incentives to halt its controversial nuclear programme. While the international community agrees that Iran has a right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the West, particularly the US, does not believe Iran will confine its nuclear programme to power generation and not utilise it for making weapons. That’s the credibility gap between Iran and the West. Besides, Iran’s seeking time till next month could be a ploy to buy time and speed up with its nuclear plans.

Then, there appears to be a thinking within Iran’s ruling circles that with the US busy in Iraq and Bush’s dwindling popularity ratings, Washington will not be able to engage in another military adventure. But such thinking is misplaced, as the US will protect its interests at any price, and if it sees them being threatened, it would not hesitate to embark on another mission, risky as it might be. Even Saddam did not believe till quite late in the day that the US would attack Iraq, but it did because Washington saw Saddam as a threat to its interests in the region.

G-8 nations urged Iran yet again yesterday to respond to the recent proposals made by the UN Security Council members and Germany. The world community including G8 nations are increasingly worried over the absence of an official Iranian response to what they considered ‘positive proposals’.

What must have emboldened Iran to take its own sweet time is the emerging North Korea missile crisis, besides of course, the ongoing Iraq imbroglio. With Pyongyang looming large on Washington’s radar, Teheran may be temporarily out of focus, but it is certainly not out of range. This is the time when Iran should in fact be showing seriousness about the EU proposals as they offer a respectable meeting point with the West. Should Iran lose this opportunity and think that Baghdad and Pyongyang will take care of its problems, it would be making a grave mistake. READ MORE

A problem does not vanish by wishing it away, or hoping that newer problems will diminish its seriousness. In any case, it is always better to seek an honourable settlement than trying devious ways to get out of a tricky situation.