Iran and the Sign of Things to Come
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
The White House says that Iran has made a serious miscalculation by restarting its nuclear research program. Spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters today that European negotiations with Iran have run their course and that a referral to the UN Security Council is the only option. NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr says the US has put itself in a very difficult situation when it comes to Iran.
DANIEL SCHORR reporting:
If President Bush was looking for potential nuclear weapons programs, he would have been better advised to invade Iran rather than Iraq. Now, with available American forces depleted by the Iraq War, the Bush administration is hardly in a position to deal with Iran from a position of strength. A defiant Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, invited United Nations inspectors to witness the breaking of the UN seals on the centrifuges used for enriching uranium. The response from the United States and Europe has varied from appeals for reason to threats of economic sanctions to offers of economic aid. But they agree that, as one European diplomat put it, a point of no return has been reached.
What that means exactly is not clear. There will undoubtedly be some statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency and a referral to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. But China, which gets a good share of its oil from Iran, and Russia, which has been negotiating with Iran to process some of its uranium, are likely to veto sanctions. Even Germany has said that it's premature to discuss sanctions, and the European Union's foreign policy adviser, Javier Solana, has said that every effort must be made to get Iran to return to negotiations.
These statements have an air of desperation about them, and it doesn't help that Iran's tough-talking president has promised to wipe Israel off the map. The Wall Street Journal says today that there are an increasing number of credible reports that Israel is well along in planning a pre-emptive strike at Iran's nuclear sites.
Addressing a crowd in the port city of Bandar Abbas today, President Ahmadinejad said that the Iranian nation is not frightened by the powers and their noise, and in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed deep disappointment with Iran's actions, a harbinger of deep trouble to come. This is Daniel Schorr.
MICHELE NORRIS (Host): This is NPR, National Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.