Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Confronting Iran

Anton La Guardia in the Telegraph:
The [British] Government pins its hopes on European "critical engagement" with Teheran. It will not be easy, though. One senior British source described bargaining with the Iranians thus: "It's like agreeing to buy a car for £1,000, handing over the money and finding the car has only three wheels. You then agree to pay £100 for the wheel, only to find it has a bald tyre. It never stops."

In its deal, the EU-3 finds itself paying ever more for the same goods: Iran had already promised to "suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities" in October 2003, but dragged its heels, then reneged last summer.

The Europeans at first gave Iran just a vague promise of "easier access to modern technology and supplies" once the enrichment programme had been permanently halted. Now they have agreed to "move ahead with projects and/or measures that can be implemented in advance of an overall agreement". Senior officials say these could include an EU trade deal and the supply of civilian aircraft.

The Europeans know the agreement is just a stopgap until Mr Bush decides what to do. Iran is fast becoming one of the most pressing foreign policy questions of his second term.

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