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DEBKA: Washington Surrenders on Nuclear IRI

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 5:39 pm    Post subject: DEBKA: Washington Surrenders on Nuclear IRI Reply with quote

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report from Washington and Tehran

June 13, 2005, 11:25 PM (GMT+02:00)


The Bush administration has given up on the battle against Iran’s nuclear armament. This is the meaning of Washington’s decision to back the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA’s board vote Monday, June 13, to reappoint Mohamed ElBaradei as agency director for a fifth term.

Israel thus finds itself alone in the ring with the Iranian nuclear menace. Nothing now remains to stop Tehran attaining its goal of a nuclear bomb or bombs by the end of 2006 or early 2007 - except for the extreme eventuality of direct Israeli military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The question is what brought about this drastic reversal in Washington? And why are Bush administration officials willing now to endorse ElBaradei after reviling him for four years (not forgetting the row over Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction) as responsible more than any other international agent for letting Iran run off with a military nuclear capability?

One answer is that US president George W. Bush’s team now believes time is running out too fast for preventive action to take effect – and not only on Iran.

Towards the end of President George W. Bush’s first term in late 2004, the mood in Washington was upbeat; a second term was seen as the chance to bring the administration’s military and diplomatic objectives to fruition. This has been replaced today by a sense in administration circles that the tough projects, like the campaign against al Qaeda, the Iraq war, the chances of thwarting the forward march of North Korea and Iran towards a nuclear bomb, the creation of an independent Palestinian state and an Israel-Palestinian peace treaty, cannot be resolved by 2008. There is a willingness to leave solutions in abeyance for the next occupant of the Oval Office.

Top officials Vice President Dick Cheney, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and national security adviser Stephen Hadley are therefore busy consolidating the administration’s achievements to date and working on stopgap remedies that will hold up until after the next presidential election. Bush will then wind up his presidency on a high note and the public will expect his successor to solidify his gains.

On Iran in particular, the Bush administration has concluded that turning back the clock on its nuclear bomb project is no longer realistic. Washington is therefore bending all its diplomatic and intelligence-related resources to the goal of delaying the actual production of the bomb as long as he is president.

In adopting this posture, the Bush administration is not operating in a vacuum.

On the other side of the Atlantic, most of the European leaders on whom Bush relied are groping for solid ground. With the exception of French President Jacques Chirac, the European Union in early May threw in the sponge on the diplomatic strategy which Washington had adopted as the keystone of its effort to pre-empt Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

UK prime minister Tony Blair, who is hanging on by a thread after a disappointing general election in May - and not generally expected to last full term, is one of the few British politicians still staunchly standing by UK-US strategic collaboration on the Iranian issue. Blair is making a well-publicized tour of European capitals in the run-up to this week’s EU crisis summit on the anti-constitution groundswell and his assumption of the Union’s presidency for six months on July 1. But his foreign secretary Jack Straw, according to DEBKAfile’s Washington and Tehran sources, has been raring for some weeks now to inform the Iranians that Britain and Europe at large no longer oppose their nuclear designs. He is stopped only by Blair’s objections.

In Berlin, were it not for Gerhard Schroeder’s dire straits and impending snap election, his foreign minister Joschke Fischer would have long ago been on the same flight to Tehran as his British counterpart.

Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi is fast losing points, while Chirac was set back critically by his country’s refusal to ratify the EU constitution. All in all, the health of the European alliance suddenly looks pretty fragile. This renders pretty futile the strenuous efforts Bush and Rice invested in the past year to mend fences with European leaders. Paradoxically, aside from the British premier, the French president is the only substantial European leader willing and able to ally himself with Washington’s effort to vanquish Iran’s nuclear ambitions, defeat Syria and bring the New Lebanon exercise to a positive conclusion.

But Washington is under no illusion that this support is enough for a uniform international front capable of eliciting UN Security Council economic sanctions stringent enough to deter Iran from implementing its nuclear plans. Even if this front was feasible, the prospect of sanctions recedes in the face of potential concerted Russian and Chinese opposition.

The deepening animosities prevailing in relations between the White House and the Kremlin and Moscow’s assistance in Iran’s nuclear projects, including the sale of nuclear fuel and technology, makes a Russian veto of any Security Council penalty against Tehran more than likely.

China too is strengthening its economic ties with the Islamic Republic and sees itself as a big buyer of Iranian oil. Beijing moreover entertains objections in principle to UN sanctions.

The heads of the Islamic regime in Tehran sense a major victory in the offing for their plans for a nuclear weapon. They see another eighteen to twenty-four months’ grace to complete their project undisturbed. For Israel, Washington’s quiet retreat from its campaign against an Iranian bomb spells disaster, the collapse of yet another vital strategic asset intrinsic to the Sharon government’s defense posture.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a scary and sad story, people put too much hope in Bush...
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, people put too much hope in the UN.

The story is scary, yes, but I'm not sure it's as bad as it looks. DEBKA - which often reads as if it's written by the New York Times - interprets the el-Baradei decision as a sign that Bush has given up, bogged down in a failed foreign policy. But what does it REALLY mean?

I think that - contrary to the Israeli analysts' assessment - Bush sees no further need for the UN charade, because he believes the real problem is not with Iran's nukes, but with Iran's regime. And he may believe a solution to that problem is close at hand.

If the Iranian resistance continues to gather momentum, and if this weekend does indeed mark the beginning of a full-blown uprising against the IRI, then the mullahs will have more to worry about than keeping UN nuclear inspectors at bay. Bush may have decided there's no point in wasting any more time dorking around with a regime that's not going to be around much longer anyway.

So I think this is really a sign that Bush trusts the Iranian people more than he trusts the UN.

We shall have to wait and see.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you hit the nail on the head, Asher; change the regime, and you don't have to worry about Chinese or Russian vetoes of effective sanctions. I wouldn't be surprised if the desperate mullahs yell for Chinese or Russian personnel to bail them out when things start looking bleak.
The Sun Is Rising In The West!Soon It Will Shine on All of Iran!
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

comes as no surpirse to me, as y'all know already
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2005 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Rasker.

A Reuters article cited at RCI has another take on it. Excerpt:

The United States lost the battle to depose ElBaradei, but it has not given up its fight against Iran's nuclear program, which Washington says is a front to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran denies this, insisting its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.

"The U.S. has taken the most graceful way out of this situation," a Western diplomat said before the IAEA board meeting. "It has decided to back ElBaradei in exchange for what it hopes will be a tougher stance on Iran," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Washington had said it opposed the reappointment of the 62-year-old Egyptian, who has run the IAEA since 1997, because it believes U.N. agency heads should have only two terms. But U.N. diplomats say the real reason is that the U.S. believed he was soft on Iraq and Iran.

Diplomats at the Vienna-based IAEA denied ElBaradei had cut a deal with the Americans to win their support for another four-year term when the 35 nations on the IAEA board voted.


The next major item on the agenda of the week-long meeting will be a speech by ElBaradei's deputy, Pierre Goldschmidt, who will inform the board about progress in the IAEA's two-year probe of Iran.

"It's going to be a tough report," a European diplomat familiar with Goldschmidt's draft speech told Reuters. "The Iranians [regime] are furious about it."

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