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U.N. Powers to Confer on Iran
The five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany plan to hold talks in early February on Iran's disputed nuclear activities, Reuters reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 16).
The group has led the U.N. Security Council to issue three sets sanctions resolutions in recent years aimed at pressuring Iran to halt nuclear work that could support nuclear weapons development. Iran has insisted its nuclear program is strictly peaceful.
"Political directors are scheduled to meet at the beginning of February in Berlin. That will be the first meeting this year. They will brainstorm the opportunities of further action with regard to this issue," said Yuri Fedotov, Russia's ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Along with Germany and Russia, the participating nations include China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Paris and London are leading a drive within the European Union to impose additional economic penalties against Iran, but their effort has faced considerable opposition, Le Monde reported this week (Croft/Barkin, Reuters, Jan. 21).
Former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq Hans Blix said Tuesday that the prospects for resolving the Iranian nuclear standoff would improve under U.S. President Barack Obama, Swissinfo reported.
"The biggest difference with Obama coming to power is that he will be more ready to enter into direct talks. We should get a much more creative and positive attitude," Blix said.
He added that former President George W. Bush's "contempt" worsened the stalemate. "Bush was the worst for treating people without respect. The policy was that the U.S. was the good guy and they would keep order among the unruly children of the world," he said (Matthew Allen, Swissinfo, Jan. 20).
Bush adopted a confrontational approach to dealing with Iran during his first years in office that did little to limit the Middle Eastern state's nuclear efforts, said Joseph Nye, a Harvard University international relations expert.
"On Iran, (Bush officials) wasted too much time focused on regime change in the first term, when I think a deal could have been done, and then they couldn't get their act together on what to do after they gave that up. ... As a result, Obama comes in to find Iran is a lot closer to having the materials and technology it needs for a nuclear weapon," he said (Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 15).
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Obama to adopt a substantially new approach to Tehran, the London Telegraph reported.
"If it's like the past and America is bullying us ... then there will be no new era between us. The language of sticks and carrots is dead," Ahmadinejad said, referring to a strategy of simultaneously offering Iran political and economic incentives in exchange for nuclear cooperation while threatening new penalties for continued defiance. Obama officials have expressed support for the policy (see GSN, Nov. 19, 2008).
Iranian newspapers offered differing opinions on Obama's potential to improve U.S.-Iranian relations.
"Obama is the logical continuation of Bush ... and important changes are to come because he will try to materialize Bush's wishes, which Bush did not know how to achieve," says a recent editorial in the conservative Iranian newspaperKayhan.
Obama is likely to pursue "a strategy of bigger sticks and bigger carrots" although he "has realized that no carrot will be as big as uranium enrichment for Iran," the editorial states.
However, the moderate newspaper Aftab Yazd covered remarks by a former Iranian nuclear negotiator with the headline: "Obama can open a window for nuclear issue."
"Obama stressed opening dialogue with Iran without preconditions in his electoral campaign," former envoy Hassan Rohani said, according to the article (London Telegraph, Jan. 22).