November 17, 2004


Iran Blinks (NY Times, November 17, 2004)

Nobody knows whether Iran is really ready to give up its ambitions to have nuclear weapons, but its commitment on Monday to freeze all uranium enrichment work and invite back international inspectors is a welcome step toward nuclear sanity.

That essential concession was extracted by Britain, France and Germany with help from a looming deadline for referring Iran's nuclear activity to the United Nations Security Council. Iran will not be fully in the clear until it agrees to more long-term arrangements, including a permanent end to uranium enrichment and the ratification of an agreement permitting international nuclear inspectors to look wherever they choose without prior warning. Only then should Europe grant the economic sweeteners Iran seeks as part of a final deal. If Tehran backslides on this agreement, as it did on a previous one, Europe should be prepared to impose tough economic penalties, possibly including a ban on investments in Iran's oil industry.

And when Iran doesn't and the Euros don't and it falls, as always, to America to be the enforcer, what will the Times write? "Europe has had great success working with the Iranians and should be afforded more time...."

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 17, 2004 9:26 AM

Re: "... Europe should be prepared to impose tough economic penalties ..."

Because, of course, that worked perfectly with Oil for Food. Does the NYT editorial board follow the news at all?

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at November 17, 2004 10:35 AM

Via Bill Hobbs:

Blackhawk Down author Mark Bowden, whose new book, Road Work: Among Tyrants, Beasts, Heroes, and Rogues is a collection of articles previously published by The Atlantic, has a must-read piece in the December issue of The Atlantic in which he interviews several of the Iranians who, 25 years ago, stormed the American embassy in Tehran and triggered the 15-month hostage crisis.

Twenty-five years ago in Tehran a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and took hostage the entire American diplomatic mission - igniting a fifteen-month international crisis whose impact is reverberating still. Now, for the first time, many of the leading hostage-takers speak candidly about their actions - which a surprising number deeply regret

We had gone about ten steps when Blue Shurt came running back out. "No," he cried. "It has been decided that you can only take still pictures - no moving pictures."
That was when we gave up. We had already taken still pictures, on our earlier visit. As we made our way of of the compound, crossing the sidewalk onto Taleghani Avenue to hail a cab, the three young Revolutionary Guards came running after us. We wondere for a minute if the procedures wer going to change yet again.

The guards all spoke to Ramin in Farsi, smiling and gesturing toward us, and then he relayed their comments: "They want me to tell you that they are embarrassed, that they think this is silly. They want to apologize on behalf of their country."

Ramin grinned as the soldiers huddled around him, grabbing at him in a friendly way. "They want me to tell you that they love America."

The soldiers flashed big smiles at us and nodded approvingly. And right there in front of the DEATH TO THE USA sign, in front of the faded banners denouncing "The Great Satan," one of the Revolutionary Guards raised his thumb high into the air and said in halting English, "Okay, George W. Bush!"

Posted by: Sandy P at November 17, 2004 11:37 AM

Nuclear retargeting:

Paris & Brussels right after Mecca & Medina.

Posted by: Ken at November 17, 2004 12:16 PM

When W leaves office in 4 years, and if the regime in Iran is still in tact, I will consider his presidency a failure. As long as they remain "in office", Iraq will continue to be a mess, Syria will continue to think they are safe, and most importantly, international terrorism will still have a safe haven.

Posted by: BJW at November 17, 2004 1:55 PM

BJW: In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I thought that if in 5 years Assad still ran Syria and the mullahs still ran Iran it would mean that we were losing the war. While we have obviously accomplished a lot, it could still be flushed away. Would have been, if JFK had stolen votes more effectively in OH...

Posted by: brian at November 17, 2004 2:03 PM

So, if Bush doesn't accomplish shutting down the Iranian nuclear programme, you folks don't think that Israel will do anything ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 17, 2004 7:03 PM

Nobody knows whether Iran is really ready to give up its ambitions to have nuclear weapons

has got to be one of the more fatuous comments ever made by the NYT.

And that's saying quite a lot.

It really should not take much to figure out (unless one is ideologically predisposed to blindness in certain directions---or in love with one's own brand of wishful thinking---or perfectly willing to give the most monstrous regimes the benefit of the doubt) that the mullahs will lie and cheat and delude and lie and deceive and stall and prevaricate and cheat and swindle and lie and dissemble and mislead and lie continuously (peppered with the obligatory smiles and reassuring words mixed with righteously indignant whining and threats).

Until they reach their goal.

(Which is not, to be sure, clean nuclear energy for non-military purposes only!)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 18, 2004 2:17 AM