- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2005

The European Union’s big three — Britain, France and Germany — recently persuaded President Bush to let them offer bigger carrots in their negotiations to coax Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The new carrot ending U.S. objections to Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), a long process probably requiring the best part of a decade. Understandably, this has elicited more yawns than yelps among the bearded turbans of Tehran and Qum.

The other U.S.-approved carrot for the EU3 to serve the Iranians was spare parts for their U.S.-made civilian airliners. Not a deal-maker either. Iran gets whatever it needs from friendly third countries in the Gulf (e.g., Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf emirates).

The ayatollahs and mullahs clearly don’t like U.S. carrots, cooked or uncooked. In fact, Iran’s supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, from his religious retreat in the holy city of Qum, said “Death to America” should now be read or spoken before any chapter of the Koran.

In case anyone thinks we make up these quotes, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) renders an extraordinary service to educating diplomats who give self-avowed enemies the benefit of the doubt — when there is no doubt. “Our people say ‘Death to America,’ and this is like saying ‘I seek God’s refuge from the accursed Satan,’ which is recited before any chapter of the Koran, even before ‘In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.’ ”

You want to know why? Iran’s religious dictator supplies the answer: “So the believer will never forget, even for a moment, the presence of Satan [who] is ready to attack him and to destroy his spiritual shield and his faith.”

The mullahocracy appears to be prepping public opinion for air strikes — Israeli and/or American — against Iran’s nuclear installations. The regime has been working secretly on producing nuclear weapons for the past 18 years. That was how long ago A.Q. Khan, the nuclear scientist who gave Pakistan nuclear weapons, began assisting America’s self-avowed enemies — Iran, North Korea and Libya — in their quest for nuclear materials and nuclear weapons know-how.

In Pakistan last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked President Pervez Musharraf for direct access to Mr. Khan, the country’s most popular icon, so the U.S. intelligence community could ask about his nuclear handiwork in Iran. All she obtained was permission to submit a list of questions to Mr. Khan. Anything more could lead to Mr. Musharraf’s downfall.

Miss Rice, according to Iran’s minister for intelligence (the spying kind, not IQ), “is the queen of violence and war. … She herself is a terrorist. Many of the crimes committed in Iraq, Palestine and other places, were committed with her support. Indeed, if justice were served, Miss Rice, [George] Bush, and their cohorts would be judged in the international court of justice for their crimes against the Iraqi people and others.”

Not to be outdone, President Mohammed Khatami — the head of a so-called “moderate faction among the Iranian rulers — chimed in with an “America is the root of worldwide terror” speech. He blamed President Bush for dividing mankind into Americans and non-Americans. Iran’s government-controlled TV joined the ranks of Holocaust deniers when it reported “heads of state, foreign ministers and senior officials from 40 countries came to inaugurate Yad Vashem, the museum of the so-called holocaust committed by the Nazis… an issue still disputed and questioned among the Europeans themselves.”

Not running again is Mr. Khatami, the “moderate” last seen huddling with Hugo Chavez, the leftist Venezuelan dictator anointed by Fidel Castro as his spiritual successor. U.S. pressure, says Mostafa Tajzadeh of the reformist Mosharekat Party, “only benefits the conservatives.” The leading hard-lining “conservative” candidate, appointed by cleric supremo Ayatollah Khamenei, is Ali Larijani, who says suspending uranium enrichment, if only temporarily, would be tantamount to “giving a diamond and receiving candy.”

The secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, Hassan Rowhani said he did not think “America has the ability to attack Iran, and I don’t think it has made any decisions on this matter. This doesn’t mean they don’t have any plans in mind. In light of the situation in the region and in Iran, I don’t think the Americans will miscalculate. … [But] if something like this were to happen, it would be a strategic miscalculation for America, and would cause it a lot of [retaliatory] damage.”

A meeting of Iranian generals echoed Mr. Rowhani. The Iranian media quoted one: “The two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which border Iran, were a great opportunity for us to know the American methods, strategies, doctrines and tactics. The Americans are our greatest security challenge. Thus, we have been able to prepare for a confrontation with the American threat. Today, thank God, we can say the armed forces of Iran are totally familiar with the American modus operandi.” In other words, they read translations of U.S. newspapers.

The best guesstimate on the EU3 negotiations with Iran is the outcome will not satisfy the United States. Then the Iranian nuclear issue will be referred to the U.N. Security Council for economic sanctions against the ayatollahs. Russia, which is completing a major nuclear reactor in Iran and selling arms there, and oil-thirsty China will use veto a sanctions regime.

China is an unhappy camper in the Iranian imbroglio. They say Miss Rice’s campaign to get the EU to rescind its decision to lift its arms embargo against China is an act of hostility. So do the Europeans. To which Miss Rice retorts, “It is the United States, not Europe, that has defended the Pacific.” For its part, the United States is also concerned about China’s new anti-secession law, which means a state of war with Taiwan if the island nation opts for independence, disguised or otherwise.

As much as Miss Rice wants to keep them compartmentalized, berating the Europeans for trusting China clashed with U.S. efforts to persuade China to persuade North Korea to return to the six-power talks it walked out of last June. Getting an eccentric hermit red monarch to put his nuclear genie back in the bottle would require more than jumbo economic and financial carrots.

Miss Rice won against the Europeans — they agreed to maintain their arms embargo against China — and lost on North Korea. China said it couldn’t exert more pressure on North Korea. Beijing fears a sudden implosion in Pyongyang.

The much-heralded benefits of President Bush’s recent olive-branch-in-hand trip to Europe were beginning to unravel. The long simmering dispute over government subsidies for Boeing and Airbus, patched up just before Bush’s European tour, exploded again.

Both the United States and Israel have contingency plans to launch air strikes against Iran’s 12 to 15 nuclear sites, most of them underground. Unless the mullahs doff their turbans and submit to unlimited inspection of their nuclear installations, Israel’s fighter-bombers may get there before America’s in the Delphic words of Vice President Dick Cheney — which have been widely misinterpreted as a U.S. green light to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for pre-emptive strikes.

For their 10th private meeting in mid-April — the first at the Crawford ranch — Mr. Bush will presumably make clear to Mr. Sharon that unilateral air strikes against Iran would bring modest gains for the Mideast peace process to a jarring halt.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide