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March 15, 2005
Iran: Thanks, But We're Still Going Nuclear

The change in direction for US policy towards Iran announced last week in support of European strategy seems to have made little difference in the Iranian position. Iran's foreign minister told reporters this morning that while American offers of incentives could improve relations between Teheran and Washington, the Iranians would not be deterred from exercising their "right" to the nuclear cycle:

Iran on Tuesday said economic incentives may help improve foreign relations but won't permanently stop Tehran from pursuing a nuclear program it says is for generating electricity but Washington believes is for weapons.

The United States agreed last week to drop opposition to Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization and to allow some sales of spare parts for civilian aircraft as part of a European plan that offers economic incentives for Iran to permanently freeze its nuclear activities. ...

"Economic incentives can't replace our rights. Our legitimate rights can't be compensated through economic incentives," Kharrazi told a news conference Tuesday.

"That America corrects part of its past mistakes is not incentive," he said of Washington dropping its opposition, but offered: "(That) may be effective to help improve relations between Iran and the U.S."

None of this comes as a surprise. The EU-3 has pursued the carrot-without-a-stick strategy for two years or more with Iran on nuclear disarmament, to little avail. The US has acted as a vague "bad cop" but deliberately deferred to the UK, France, and Germany after we took the lead in dealing with Iraq. George Bush's move to join the EU-3 strategy caused some shock, both in Europe and in the US, but Bush wants to see some movement, and clearly the Iranians had stalled the process.

Bush wants what Clinton failed to get in North Korea -- a verification regimen akin to the Soviet disarmament agreements in the late 1980s that allow for true inspections and complete access before allowing the Islamists to exercise the nuclear cycle. (Preferably, we'd keep them from doing it at all, but the Russians have screwed that up.) Such a regimen would take time to set up and would delay Iranian ability to develop a nuclear warhead. That delay would hopefully give the energetic democracy movement time to unleash itself and overthrow the mullahcracy, the only sure way to keep nuclear fuel out of the hands of radical Islamic terrorists, at least from Iranian sources.

Failing that, Bush's agreement has the leeway to force the issue to the UN Security Council, and soon. The Russians would probably veto any sanctions, and if not them, the Chinese. But again, the debate and the deliberation may give the democrats a chance to assert themselves; at least it would put Iran under a spotlight which thus far has benefitted Lebanon and its demands for democracy.

These strategies do not hold tremendous promise, but at the least, it gets Europe to break out of the Iranian stalemate. Left as it was, the Iranian stall only benefitted the mullahs.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 15, 2005 6:55 AM

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