Monday, November 29, 2004

Does Europe actually care whether Iran has the bomb?

Two articles I read over the weekend conclude that the world has left it too late and that we have very few options left to stop Iran getting the bomb. The Atlantic essentially argues that we have no military options, but we have to carry on pretending we do -- and hope the Iranians don't call our bluff -- because otherwise we have no negotiating power. The Jerusalem Post says that our only hope is to string out negotiations with the Iranians for so long that by the time they get the bomb, the country will have a different regime with its finger on the trigger. (Even then, however, the best we may be able to hope for is a more moderate Muslim regime, and not a secular, friendly one.)
The way the European Union is behaving in its farcical and half-hearted negotiations with Iran, however, even those slim hopes are being thrown out the window. It is clear that Iran is just using these flimsy agreements as a cover to continue developing the weapons it so desperately wants (indeed, just one day after signing an agreement to freeze parts of the program last week it began haggling over details which theoretically had already been settled). Europe, however, seems desperate to take Iran at its word and just settle the damn issue! Its attitude reminds me of the willful blindness Britain showed before the second world war, when it believed a scrappy piece of paper with Hitler's signature on it would bring 'Peace in our Time,' despite all the evidence to the contrary. The EU is behaving as if ignoring the problem will make it go away -- although the more I read, the more you have to wonder whether Europe actually cares about Iran having the bomb, or whether it is simply going through the motions so they will be able to say, 'we tried.'

UPDATE: Iran has agreed that it will not operate uranium enrichment equipment -- paving the way for the "International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based United Nations nuclear monitoring body, to pass a resolution that will be only mildly critical of Iran's nuclear program." When you look a bit closer, it also emerges the Iranians won't guarantee to actually shut down the equipment as requested, but will just 'not conduct any testing.'

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