Sunday, January 15, 2006

Today's acrobatics on Iran...

After all the harsh rhetoric over the weekend, some in the West apear to be looking for a way to grasp any straw to keep things quiet and finesse a showdown with the Iranians.

The Iranians started the ball in play by saying that only diplomacy, not threats of UN sanctions could end the crisis. ABC News: Iran wants diplomacy not threats in nuclear impasse What the Iranians would call what's been going on for the last 4 years if not diplomacy, I'm sure I don't know.

Needless to say, some elements of the West were more than eager to seize on even this turgid rhetoric.

The French (who else?) weighed for continued talks and diplomacy, even in the face of Iran's aggressive stance towards the West. French defence minister urges talks with Iran - And the Russians, caught between their multi billion ruble investment in Teheran's nukes and pressure from the US and the international community asked the Iranians to `reconsider'and play nice again.Russia Asks Iran to Reconsider

And this was after the IAEA's own Inspector Clouseau, Mohamed El Baradei was quoted saying he could not "confirm the peaceful nature of that (Iran's nuclear) program. " (!)

On the other hand, some of America's politicians appeared a lot more resolute.

Arizona Senator John McCain used an appearence on `Meet The Press' to say that Iran's nuclear ambitions constitute the gravest situation facing the United States since the end of the Cold War, aside from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. McCain, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said it is time to bring the matter before the U.N. Security Council.

"We must go to the U.N. now for sanctions. If the Russians and the Chinese, for reasons that would be abominable, do not join us, then we would have to go with the willing," said McCain. "There is only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option, that is a nuclear-armed Iran."

On the other side of the political spectrum, a senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Indiana's Evan Bayh, said that Iran `cannot be trusted'. Speaking on CNN's Late Edition program, the senator pointed to recent statements by Iranian President Ahmadinejad calling for the eradication of Israel and calling the Holocaust a "myth" as evidence of extremism and irrationality on the part of Iran's leadership.

"Iran is the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran is a menace. They have to be dealt with. Appeasement will not work. Nice words will not work," said Senator Bayh. "We need to use diplomacy, economic sanctions, other means so that we will not have to resort to military action. But the time to act is now".

Another Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina,also pointed to tougher measures, saying that "all options," a phrase generally implying use of military force, should be kept open.

Even Senator Chuck Schumer(d-NY), normally a pussycat in matters like these said that he agreed with Mr. Graham. But noting that only Russia or China were likely to block a sanctions vote at the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Schumer said that if necessary, "we ought to play hardball with them."

It remains to be seen how this translates into action, but the rhetoric was in sharp contrast to what was coming out of France and Russia. Or for that matter, fromBritish Foreign Minister Jack Straw.

The Iranians meanwhile threatened that any sort of UN action would have the effect of raising world oil prices. Iranian Economy Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari said "Any possible sanctions on Iran … could possibly, by disturbing Iran's political and economic situation, raise oil prices beyond levels the West expects."

And Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that Iran will consider using its control over oil prices as retalliation for potential sanctions on Iran.

The plot thickens...

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