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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Washington et Téhéran : un dangereux bras de fer

by By Françoise Germain Robin

Washington and Teheran: a Dangerous Show of Strength

Translated by John O’Neil

Translated Tuesday 14 March 2006, by John O’Neil

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, China, Russia, Great Britain, and France) began consulting with each other Thursday 9 March to prepare for the official meeting that will examine the IAEA report concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

Not surprisingly, IAEA director Mohammed Baradei stated that while there is no evidence of Iran’s nuclear program working toward military ends he worries about a lack of transparency in Iran’s activities and its unilateral resumption of uranium enrichment activities in spite of IAEA opposition.

For Baradei, transmitting Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Security Council is simply another phase in the quest for a diplomatic solution, and he has asked each of the parties to "keep a cool head."

Baradei’s request was not heeded: US and Iranian leaders have traded threats and invective for a few days and since Wednesday the rhetoric on both sides has escalated.

After vice-president Dick Cheney said in a speech to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC that Iran "faces meaningful consequences" and supporting John Bolton’s remarks (US ambassador to the UN appointed by Bush) according to whom all options are open, it is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who has accused Iran of sending members of the Al-Quds division of the Revolutionary Guard into Iraq to infiltrate and cause violence. These infiltrations have been denounced for a long time by Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, who runs the organization in France.

Iran has responded with the same tone to the threats. President Ahmadinedjad stated that "Iran can also make the West suffer" without further elaboration. The Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, added: "Iran will resist all pressure or conspiracy and will pursue advanced technologies including nuclear technology."

It is a worrisome show of strength because it has an uncanny resemblance to a similar scenario three years ago in Iraq. At the time, the US had used the accusation that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed nuclear and chemical weapons of mass destruction with which he would threaten first Israel and then the world as a pretext for taking military action. Although George Bush was unable to convince the Security Council of the reality of this threat, he overrode the Council and in company with Great Britain, decided to attack Iraq. Today we see in the chaos in Iraq the results of this masquerade: it was proven afterward that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.

No one mourned the end of Saddam’s regime but thousands of Iraqis continue to die because of Bush’s "purifying" action. Iraq is on the verge of civil war and about to be dismantled. The worst of the Islamic fundamentalists, Salafists like Bin Laden and his followers, who did not exist during Saddam Hussein’s regime, have made Iraq their favorite parade ground and the launching point for Jihad extending through the entire region.

The same situation is reproducing itself in Iran. The consequences of the use of force by the US or Israel against Iran run the risk of being incalculable. We are certainly not there yet and it remains to be seen what the Security Council will decide.

There are some major differences among the permanent members of the Security Council who have veto power. China and Russia are notably unfavorable to sanctions and want to let Iran have some leeway to accept the "Russian option" where Russia would enrich Iranian uranium on Russian soil while negotiations continue, or another compromise where both Iran’s right to nuclear energy is preserved and the non-proliferation treaty is in force.

But it is clear that from now on, the American threat goes well beyond the nuclear problem and takes aim at the Iranian government that Washington intends to reverse as it did its Iraqi neighbor.

Will Europe, and particularly France, follow Washington in this new and dangerous venture?

The vagueness of these declarations makes one fear the worst.

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