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Sunday, April 30, 2006

What's to be done about Iran?

Views from the weekend's papers. Rod Liddle in the Times:-

'Well, of course we must first negotiate. Of course we must, later, bring whatever pressure we can to bear from supra-national organisations such as the UN. We should beg, bully, plead and cajole the medieval Ahmadinejad. We should offer economic incentives. When these do not work, we should impose sanctions. We should bar the Iranian team from the World Cup and refuse them entry to the Eurovision song contest — that’ll teach ’em. But what on earth do we do when all that fails, as it looks as though it will? Faced with that probability, there is just silence from the politicians: the question is never answered.'

Is any enlightenment to be found in the Grauniad?

'Some argue that the best course would be to acquiesce in an Iranian bomb. That may yet happen. But there is much more to be done. What is needed is a return to the idea that a bargain can be struck with Iran, or at least with the pragmatists sidelined by the president. It can have security guarantees if it accepts UN demands. The US needs Iranian help over the mess next door in Iraq. Denouncing Tehran as dictatorial and revolutionary won't bring that. But Iran must restore confidence in its intentions. A start would be a pause in uranium enrichment - even for a brief period. Then it must allow the IAEA to mount snap inspections under the so-called "additional protocol". It must on no account leave the NPT - that would mean slamming the door shut.'

So, that's clear then. We don't 'acquiesce' in Iranian nukes - yet. Not until we have shown we mean business by lecturing Ahmadinejad on what he must do and what he must on no account do - not forgetting, meanwhile, to undermine whatever Bush does to try to put pressure on him. Then, when he has stuck up two fingers to us - then, we can wash our hands of the problem, congratulating ourselves on having done all that could reasonably have been expected of us. Israel is, after all, a good long way from where we live.

Happy, Mr Liddle? Me neither.

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