The substance of this article on the attitude of U.S. diplomats toward Iran, posted Tuesday by the Financial Times of London, is utterly out of sync with its tone.  --  Guy Dinmore would like to give the impression that sober-minded American diplomats (conveniently, the paper known as "the Wall Street Journal of Europe," representing interests that have preyed on Iran/Persia for more than a century, does not mention the fact that it is that famous Iran hawk, the notorious John "there is no such thing as the United Nations" Bolton, who heads up the U.S. team at the U.N.) are prepared to meet Iran's "very provocative [action]" and "serious snub" with a well-thought-out diplomatic response.  --  But an attentive reading of the article shows that in reality no contemplated American measures have much prospect of success.  --  Also discreetly unmentioned by Dinsmore is the well-known American-Israeli plan to consider an attack against Iran in response to the anticipated "failure" of the U.N. to act.  --  The Financial Times also published a piece by think-tank scholar Mark Fitzpatrick on Tuesday, arguing that "There is no justification for allowing Iran" to master uranium enrichment.  --  In sum, these articles are merely legitimating adjuncts to an anti-Iran campaign from which British financial and commercial interests hope ultimately to profit....


Middle East & Africa

By Guy Dinmore

Financial Times (UK)
January 10, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Iran’s plan to start enriching uranium -- albeit on a small scale and under U.N. supervision -- has helped clear the way for the U.S. to move to the next stage of diplomacy at the United Nations.

But diplomats and analysts say the Bush administration remains circumscribed in its ability to rally a coalition willing to take serious actions.

Western diplomats described Iran’s action as very provocative and a serious snub to its negotiating partners in Europe. While the Bush administration would not take any joy in Iran moving closer to obtaining the technology to produce a nuclear weapon, at least Tehran’s decision to end its two-year suspension clarified the situation after months of uncertainty.

“Today Iran has taken another deliberate step towards uranium enrichment -- the process for creating nuclear bomb material,” Greg Schulte, the U.S.’s ambassador to the IAEA, told the FT. “The regime continues to choose conflict over co-operation -- a choice that deepens the isolation of Iran and harms the interests of the Iranian people.”

However, the Bush administration’s increasingly difficult relationship with Russia complicates efforts to reach a consensus over Iran. Moscow’s support at the U.N. Security Council would be vital for any resolution seeking to isolate the Islamic republic.

“No one is talking in terms of sanctions. No one is rushing into sanctions at the moment,” a Western diplomat commented. But he said he was more confident that Russia would not stand in the way of referring the issue to the Security Council after Iran’s decision to remove U.N. seals and start up its uranium enrichment pilot plant at Natanz yesterday. While the Bush administration described Iran’s proposed enrichment as a “serious escalation,” it showed no sign of rushing into a confrontation. The White House only said it was discussing the next step with allies, but made clear that there was no alternative but to refer the matter to the Security Council if Iran persisted on its current course.

Cliff Kupchan, analyst at the Eurasia Group consultancy who recently visited Moscow, said Russia did not seem very inclined to be helpful at the U.N., although President Vladimir Putin had also put himself in a difficult situation with Europe by triggering the Ukraine-gas crisis. Mr. Kupchan also noted that China, a Security Council member, imported nearly 12 per cent of its oil from Iran.

The U.S. could not expect much more than a “rebuke” of Iran at the U.N., he said.

But analysts said the “coalition of the willing” model remained very much a tool of U.S. diplomacy and that -- outside the U.N. framework -- U.S. allies in Europe and Asia could come under pressure to impose sanctions on Iran, such as an investment ban on its energy sector. This could place countries like Germany and Italy in a difficult situation with their closer economic ties to Iran.

The U.S. is also known to be exploring various “containment” options that would allow it to take action against any government or enterprise assisting Iran’s suspected weapons-related programs.