- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world.

Dagens Nyheter

U.S. relations with Iran

STOCKHOLM — What’s worrying Washington is the information that al Qaeda members in Iran took part in the recent bombing attacks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as well as suspicions that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.

Because of this, the world may be confronted with the same dilemma as it was during the war in Iraq.

There is a broad unity in the world that no country should be able to shelter terrorists and that the nonproliferation treaty should be respected. The disunity is about the method.

And if the American conclusion is that something similar will work in Iran, then the world order as we know it is in a bad fix.

Helsingin Sanomat

Wrinkles in the ‘road map’

HELSINKI — The Israeli government’s conditional approval of the so-called road map to peace was hastily called “historical.” That word is often better avoided. The diplomatic dustbins on the Middle East are full of “historical” plans which in the end have amounted to nothing.

The road map — as the name says — only shows how to proceed if both parties possess the required good will. Only there are no guarantees for the existence of good will on either side.

The U.S.-drafted road map does have a unique feature, in that it requires simultaneous action from both sides without allowing them to wait for the other side to make a first move. [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s government has so far refused to do anything before there is a complete stop to terrorist strikes. The Palestinians, in turn, have said that the brutal Israeli occupation has made it impossible for them to persuade extremist groups to a cease-fire.

The new Palestinian prime minister, Mahmud Abbas, should now quickly gain the upper hand with terrorists, which not only exist among the ranks of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad but also fairly close to his own government.

The task will be impossible if life in the occupied regions remains miserable and the population only sees him as someone doing Israel’s dirty work.

Asahi Shimbun

‘Small’ nuclear weapons

TOKYO — Last week, both houses of Congress passed defense spending bills that authorize research for small nuclear weapons. The Senate approved even development of such weapons, subject to the consent of Congress. The Senate and House of Representatives are expected to modify their versions into a single measure that President Bush is expected to sign into law.

However small, they are still nuclear weapons. If their yield is 5 kilotons, they have one-third the destructive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. One misstep could spread radioactivity and cause extensive damage. In fact, an underground test detonation of a 2.3-kiloton bomb [172 feet] deep several years ago contaminated a [1.5-mile] radius with high-level radioactivity.

… the United States already has a vastly superior array of modern conventional weapons, and the superiority edge continues to grow. We see no need for nuclear arms to counter countries that support terrorism.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insists the United States will simply do research on small nuclear weapons, but it is easy to imagine the temptation to proceed to develop and test them. We hope the United States will immediately abandon the idea of making no distinction between conventional weapons and nuclear weapons.

El Pais

The earthquake in Algeria

MADRID — Algeria suffered an earthquake of devastating consequences last week: more than 2,200 dead and 10,000 injured and thousands of families homeless. The quake measured 6.7 on the Richter and tumbled housing blocks and buildings like playing cards in the affected zone, the super-populated coastal region beside the capital. [This Tuesday] another earthquake struck. …

These precedents and the systematic lack of response by the government in the face of expectable misfortunes explains the angry reception the victims gave President Abdelaziz Bouteflika when he visited the quake area.

The fundamental reason for such a high fatality rate in this earthquake is not so much the fury of nature but rather the incompetence and negligence of a dictatorial regime gangrenous with corruption….

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