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Foreign Media Reaction

March 25, 2005

'NUCLEAR WEAPONS STATES' FOMENT WORLD-WIDE 'DISQUIET'

KEY FINDINGS

** Commentators cite "international hand-wringing" over "nuclear ambitions."

** Concerns exist that Iran may "follow the North Korean model" in "covertly...going nuclear."

** The NPT and EU-3 are influentially presiding over the "vexed issue of nuclear ambitions."

** Writers ponder Pakistani nuclear expert Abdul Qadeer Khan's "proliferation network's" role.

MAJOR THEMES

'North Korea has nuclear weapons,' but 'it is anybody's guess what Iran is up to'-- Uniformly, worldwide media cited N. Korea's claims of having nuclear weapons while a Russian analyst advised that, lacking "direct evidence," this may merely reflect "blackmail, Korean style." Global media also pondered Iran's "nuclear ambitions" and Iran's vow that "it would never give up the enrichment of uranium" to denote international concerns. Alarmingly, the liberal Sydney Morning Herald concluded that "international hand-wringing" aside, "the larger issue"--globally, was that "nuclear non-proliferation strategies are on the brink of collapse."

'Iran...is pinning its hope on gaining time'-- Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung warned that "month after month" Iran moves closer to developing "technology for the construction of the bomb," while Israel's left-leaning Ha'aretz mulled "how to deter" Iran. Euro outlets noted that Iran's "shrill" reaction to U.S. offers in moderation of its hardline stance still leaves unanswered: "Why then did Iran pursue a secret program for years if it was really only interested in a nuclear program and not in the nuclear bomb?" Italy's centrist La Stampa found historical precedent in the North Korean model, "which managed to produce atomic weapons by exploiting for a decade the cover guaranteed by signing the non-proliferation Treaty while it covertly carried out a military nuclear program."

'Trans-Altlantic unity...will [it] work' on these difficult nuclear cases?-- Although "there is clearly no guarantee," EU-3 partners Britain, France and Germany planned to confront "whether the IAEA, EU, U.S. and UN can trust Iran to confine its nuclear ambitions to exclusively peaceful ends."The EU-3 countries are "negotiating to halt the enrichment of uranium there," an Irish writer noted, adding that the IAEA said, "Iran failed to declare its nuclear activities for two decades, but is now complying with the treaty."India's centrist Hindustan Times asserted "India and Pakistan should have a critical national interest in promoting universal adherence to the Fissile Material Control Treaty," as well as an interest in May's upcoming NPT conference.

'Pakistani nuclear expert Abdul Qadeer Khan's...clandestine assistance'-- "He reputedly assisted the North Koreans to realize their ambitions to develop a viable nuclear weapon," said the center-left Irish Times, adding he may have "sold secrets and equipment to the Iranians."Indian outlets assailed Khan's actions, labeling them "a crime...so serious," he "has put the entire world at risk." Pakistani writers penned, "the nuclear issue continues to cast its shadow over Pakistan because of our own machinations." They accused Islamabad of creating a "nuclear dilemma" and "credibility gap," making us "our own worst enemy," undermining Pakistan's "boast of ensuring foolproof security of its nuclear assets."

Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, rmrmail@state.gov

EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan

EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 87 reports from 26 countries over March 8-25, 2005.Editorial excerpts are listed by the most recent date.

EUROPE

BRITAIN: "Condoleezza In Asia"

An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph observed (3/21): "Miss Rice's tour has not produced dramatic progress towards solutions of intractable problems. For instance, despite its impatience with the North Koreans, it is not clear whether Washington has any plans beyond the six-party talks for curbing their nuclear ambitions. But it has confirmed a pattern of warm praise for allies such as Japan and blunt talking to those, such as China, which could as well prove a strategic competitor as a partner.And in all this, Miss Rice's interlocutors can be sure that, unlike her predecessor, Colin Powell, she speaks for George W. Bush."

"China Must Do More To Control Pyongyang"

An editorial in the independent Financial Times read (3/16): "The real obstacle to progress is not China's lack of influence but its lack of will. Beijing, fearful of the creation of a unified Korea friendly to the U.S., is content to maintain the status quo in the North and to draw out the nuclear negotiations indefinitely.Even the Bush administration, preoccupied by the Middle East and other disputes with China, has quietly accepted very slow progress in the Korean talks."

"United Against Tehran"

The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (3/14): "It is good news that the U.S. and its biggest EU partners, Britain, France and Germany, have now agreed on a common approach to the vexed issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions....George Bush began to shift towards a compromise on his recent visit to Europe despite having long insisted he would never 'reward' Teheran, in his eyes a sponsor of terrorism, for doing the right thing. Part of his carrots and sticks bargain with the EU three is that the U.S. will play down its 'outpost of tyranny' rhetoric, which tends to boost Iran's hardliners.Transatlantic unity cannot solve all problems--and there is clearly no guarantee that it will work in this very difficult case. But it is a sensible basis on which to start."

"A U.S. Shift That Could Tame Iran's Nuclear Ambition"

The left-of-center Independent opined (3/14): "The offer was this: if Iran abandoned its uranium enrichment programme, the U.S. would lift its long-standing objections to Iranian membership of the World Trade Organisation and remove its block on Teheran obtaining parts for commercial aircraft....By yesterday, the tone of Iran's response...had become more conciliatory.... U.S. officials stressed that stronger action would be needed if Iran still refused to meet its international obligations.But the atmosphere has changed.We may not be watching the endgame in this dangerous dispute, but this may be the skirmishing that heralds the beginning of the end."

FRANCE: "After Europe, Rice To Charm Asia"

Philippe Gelie remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (3/16): "The trip Rice began yesterday is meant as the equivalent of her trip to Europe, with a similar policy speech to be delivered in Japan.... Secretary Rice may announce the sale of F-16 aircraft to both India and Pakistan, thus implicitly acknowledging their status as nuclear powers....More generally, the trip gives Washington an opportunity to define its relationship with China...whose recent law on the use of force against Taiwan re-enforces America's concerns."

GERMANY: "From Words To Deeds"

Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich commented (3/24): "The Europeans have all the ingredients for a successful foreign policy in the conflict over Iran's nuclear program: they agree, they have a common goal.and they even have a concept.and of late, they even enjoy U.S. support.Nevertheless, the talks of the EU troika with Iran are turning around in circles, and the result could be a failure, since Iranian concessions...are not in sight. We could rather get the impression that the Iranians are out for proving the Americans right.... A failure of the talks would come at the right time for the Americans, since they would then determine the tone in the Iran debate and the consequence would be that the conflict lands at the UN Security Council. Iran, in turn, is pinning its hope on gaining time.Month after month, Iran has gotten closer to its goal of controlling the technology for the construction of the bomb.If they have managed this, they will be safe from western attacks. North Korea is an example. The Europeans have only one choice. They must make clear to the mullahs that deeds will follow words. If the talks fail, the EU will follow the tough U.S. course.This need not mean war, but a transatlantic alliance in the Security Council could be able to impose painful sanctions on the regime in Teheran."

"New And Old Emotive Terms"

Washington correspondent Michael Backfisch filed this editorial for business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (3/16):"For weeks, both sides of the Atlantic celebrated a kind of rapprochement euphoria. Following President Bush and Secretary Rice's visit to Europe, many celebrated the new cotton candy policy of the Americans.And the tone was that Washington again listens to the allies.. But this is wrong.It is true that Bush gave up his policy of total isolation of the mullahs, but there is only a tactical move behind it that does not cost much politically. For Bush, it is more important that he was able to wrest from the Europeans the concession to call the UN Security Council if the EU-3-Iran talks fail.For the Americans, it is totally clear that there is no way around this, since Iran made unmistakably clear that it would never give up the enrichment of uranium.... It may be doubted that the EU has understood on which course it is...since it has not yet presented a scenario on what would happen if its policy failed. But this is necessary since the Americans will demand the Europeans to stick to their position once point x has been reached.... Following 9/11, it has been a U.S. 'raison d'etat' to ban the proliferation of nuclear weapons to terrorists--and in the case of Iran to Hizballah.That is why President Bush is also thinking about rewriting the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty....With respect to China, the United States also steers an uncompromising course...and the view that weapons of the European allies could be used against U.S. soldiers is a horror vision for U.S. politicians. That is why the EU argument that a strict code of conduct could rein in arms export, does not count in the United States. In Congress a mood is developing that could explode in a new transatlantic thunder.Republicans and Democrats are disappointed.If the embargo on China is lifted, both chambers have threatened to end European-American arms cooperation.The EU must blame itself for the new dispute, since it acted with the same pattern of which it again and again accuses the United States. It rushed forward with its plan without prior consultations with its partner."

"Shrill Words From Teheran"

Wolfgang Koydl noted in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/14): "The mullahs in Tehran have rejected the most recent offer, thus having done the tough neo-conservatives a great service. The hawks in Washington can now tell their critics, the ones in Europe in particular: 'We have always known it. We can't trust Teheran.' Indeed, the Iranian reaction to the U.S. offer was shrill...and, according to Teheran, only the Europeans had understood that Iran would not strive for the bomb but that Iran only needed enriched uranium as fuel for a reactor.But not even the Europeans are so nave to believe this. Why then did Iran pursue a secret program for years if it was really only interested in a nuclear program and not in the nuclear bomb? Iran's leader Khatami was more honest. During his visit to Venezuela, at the front door to the United States, he said:'We must be strong in order to strike back and to be able to defend ourselves.' Those who want to strike back, need a weapon, but Khatami does certainly not want to defend himself with energy from a nuclear power plant."

"The New Bush"

Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg judged (3/14): "The notion that the mullah regime in Teheran could soon sit in front of the red button of the bomb is worrying Americans and Europeans..... With her latest demand, the U.S. secretary of state is opening a new chapter in relations with Iran but also in relations with Europe.President Bush's offered evidence that his charm offensive during his visit to Germany three weeks ago could be the beginning of a new policy.... His turn will set in motion the stalled talks again. It is true that President Khatami said on Sunday that Iran will not allow anyone to force the country to give up the enrichment of uranium, but the regime can now hope that it will get rewards if it shows a greater willingness for compromise...for Europe will be unable to meet promises like an accession to the WTO on its own. At the same time, Iran will be confronted with a uniform front, since Russia, too, welcomed the American step. But this does not guarantee that the mullahs can be prevented from getting the bomb, but the chances for such a move have now improved a bit.And this is much."

"Iran"

Michael Strmer argued in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/11): "It is a good signal that the United States has now brought its negotiating position in line with the one of Britain, France, and Germany.As of now, Iran will have difficulty driving a wedge between Europe and America. If 'good cop' and 'bad cop' pursue the same policy and coordinate their options, the mullahs must take the talks much more seriously than in the past.Since 1979...U.S.-Iranian relations have been burdened not only strategically but also psychologically.Secretary Rice is now showing negotiating art by overcoming the American trauma and is now bringing into line Atlantic positions. The government in Berlin disproves the extreme position her president has indicated but in Paris and London, the governments have understood it."

"New Tones, Old Game"

Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf stated (3/14): "Secretary of State Rice's offer to Teheran...certainly deserves attention....The fact that the secretary has now brought back diplomacy into the play has resulted in international applause.But the U.S. offer that is in line with the EU and Russia's policy towards Iran, has thus far only been a declaration of intent. And it will remain so as long as Teheran does not clearly move. Below this level, Washington's position remains as hard as rock....All this does not allow the conclusion that Washington has fundamentally changed its strategy.On the contrary, the United States continues to keep all options open in the 'great game' in the Mideast.And the more progress occurs in other regions in the Middle East, the more the United States could feel strengthened in its view to exert again greater diplomatic pressure on Iran."

"U.S. And EU Joining Forces"

Centrist Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung of Hanover opined (3/14): "If the mullahs really aimed at a military showdown with the United States, then this would be ominous--in the end for themselves. Unlike in the Iraq conflict, the United States and the EU have joined forces. No one wants the Middle East conflict to turn into a nuclear conflict. The United States has now fallen in line with the EU and offers trade advantages in favor of Iran if it renounces its nuclear plans.At the same time, the Europeans, too, have backed the U.S. plan and are now threatening to bring the case before the UN Security Council. Iran could soon become under such strong political pressure from the outside as it has never happened before. This could also question the predominance of the hardliners in the country. The wind of change is blowing across the Middle East--and could also drive the mullahs out of their office."

"Falling In Line With The EU"

Right-of-center Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten argued (3/14): "Thus far, Washington has pinned its hopes on military pressure to urge Iran to give up its nuclear program. But now it is falling in line with the EU course to offer economic incentives, too.But in return, President Bush called upon Germany, France, and Britain to bring the case to the UN Security Council if the talks fail. This could be possible because Teheran has flatly rejected this carrot the EU offered.It will at best be a beginning if only two of several co-players agree. The negotiations with the Mullah regime have not yet been lost, but they will become tough and require patience from all sides involved.All the circumstances turn the conflicts about Iran's nuclear plans into one of the most dangerous ones in the world.In this context, we should not forget Russia, which is building a nuclear power plant in Bushehr.Many sides are involved and pull the wires."

ITALY: "Bush Does Not Want A New Cold War"

Giampaolo Pioli stated in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (3/15):"The White House expressed 'regret' but it's much more. It fears that China's new anti-secession law 'will not help peace and stability in the Taiwan district.' In other words, it fears a strong confrontation with Beijing. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to China next month is becoming ever more urgent as it changes the perspective of her Asian trip entirely.President Bush is due to arrive in Beijing in November. But Washington would like to prevent the trip from creating a 'cold war' with the East.... Rice's task has now become particularly sensitive. On one side Japan has strongly criticized the anti-secession vote, on the other, Russia (a partner in North Korean nuclear negotiations) stated that it 'understands' Beijing, even if hopes that every 'diplomatic effort will be made' to reach full peace with the rebel island. The new geopolitical equilibria do not depend solely on the Middle Eastern region.Washington is perhaps now paying for China's silent but not neutral behavior regarding the war in Iraq."

"Teheran: Dollars And Threats Won't Stop Us On The Nuclear Issue"

Maurizio Molinari wrote in centrist, influential La Stampa (3/13): "Iran rejects the American offer of economic incentives and reiterates that it does not intend to definitively give up its uranium enrichment program.... U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced on Friday that Washington had accepted the European proposal offering economic incentives to Teheran.... Washington's move on the incentives was applauded by the Kremlin, whose Foreign Minister emphasized the convergence between the two countries.... Russia's consent, together with that of EU countries, was the objective of the White House in order to get the international community to 'speak with a single voice,' as underscored by President George W. Bush himself, on Teheran.... The aim of the American diplomatic offensive is to create the conditions to reach a vast understanding at the IAEA on the necessity to refer Teheran to the UN Security Council, in order to adopt sanctions that will prevent Iran from following the North Korean model, which managed to produce atomic weapons by exploiting for a decade the cover guaranteed by signing the non-proliferation Treaty while it covertly carried out a military nuclear program."

"Iran, Now Bush Will Try Negotiating"

Arturo Zampaglione wrote from New York in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (3/12): "After having included Iran in the 'axis of evil,' along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Kim Jong II's North Korea, following years of tough confrontations on Iran's nuclear programs...George W. Bush decided to change course. The isolation strategy will be replaced by one of dialogue and coordination with the Europeans.... Bush's shift developed last month, during his tour in the old continent, when he understood the Europeans' determination in putting an end to Teheran's nuclear ambitions."

"Nuclear Crisis With Iran: U.S. Agrees To European Incentives"

Mariuccia Chiantaretto stated in pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (3/12): "The carrot before the stick. In a clear change in course, the Bush Administration yesterday announced its approval of European incentives if Teheran agrees to stop building facilities with the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. The new approach is the result of arduous negotiations during President George Bush's trip to Europe."

RUSSIA: "Re-Dividing The World's Energy Resources"

Artur Blinov said in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (3/21): "Modern diplomacy increasingly serves business, of which the Rice tour is just an example. Fuel and energy dominated the negotiations. As oil and natural gas prices go up, the world's interest in sources of energy, including sources of nuclear energy, grows, too. With diplomacy focusing on energy, many political slogans lose their initial meaning. Calls for democracy and a war on 'tyranny' are used in fighting competition, and curses against 'tyranny' and references to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are mouthed in the same breath as proposals to buy from Westinghouse. The struggle for access to mineral resources causes blurry eyes, with an acclaim of 'democratic development' becoming a reward for trade and military concessions, a kind of advance payment. Countries like Libya and Burma, forgotten and forsaken, suddenly snap out of oblivion, attracting an endless chain of high-ranking delegations. That is characteristic of the current state of international relations, which looks more like re-dividing the world's energy resources."

"Blackmail Korean Style"

Mekhman Gafarly said in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (3/16): "Yesterday North Korea's Foreign Minister Pak Nam-sung stated that the DPRK can build up its nuclear arsenal to deter a U.S. attack.... Such statements are nothing other than blackmail unless there is direct evidence to prove that North Korea has nuclear weapons. Even so, Pyongyang, for all its animosity toward Washington, has not given up hope for a peaceful solution, looking to Beijing for help."

"Rice Takes On Asia"

Boris Volkhonskiy commented in business-oriented Kommersant (3/15): "As she discusses a variety of topics in each country during her tour, the U.S. Secretary of State will clearly focus on working out a concerted stand on key strategic issues, primarily nuclear disarmament.... The Americans' desire for higher-level political relations with India is due not only to wider economic ties with that country, but also to their far-reaching plans in Asia. Over the past few years, especially since the start of the antiterrorist campaign, India has become a major ally in fighting terror. It is not fortuitous, therefore, that the next stopovers on the Rice tour will be Islamabad and Kabul. The problems of security and nuclear non-proliferation will dominate the agenda in the second half of the tour, which includes Japan, South Korea and China."

"What Is Iran Up To?"

Konstantin Volkov said in reformist Itogi (3/10):"For several years now the world's analysts have been wrecking their brains over what exactly Iran is after, peaceful use of nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.The visit to Iran by the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, Aleksandr Rumyantsev, in late February provided more food for thought.... While Russia is honest to the IAEA, it is anybody's guess what Iran is up to."

AUSTRIA: "With One Voice"

Senior columnist for mass circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung Ernst Trost commented (3/14): "The Europeans first have to clean their ears to be able to take in the new tones from Washington. According to George W. Bush, 'the Americans and their European friends speak with one voice'--thanks to Iran's nuclear ambitions.... The divided partners seem to have discovered some common interests after all during Bush's European tour. And in contrast to her predecessor Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice appears to have succeeded in convincing the President that foreign policy successes can be obtained not only through pugnacious behavior but also through negotiations. She really enjoys his full confidence."

"Open Nuclear Game"

Foreign affairs editor for independent daily Der Standard Gudrun Harrer editorialized (3/14):"The outcome of the nuclear game with Iran remains an open matter. Before the parliamentary elections in May it is hardly to be expected that the mullahs will yield--concessions with regard to national security do not go down well in Iran where elections are not a mere sham as they are in other countries in the region. After the elections it will become clear whether the assessment holds water that conservative change in Iran is being softened by pragmatism dictated by the economic needs of the Iranian population. However, the game is not only between Iran and the West, but also between the U.S. and Europe.Especially France is making use of the Iranian case--as it is of the Syrian one--to improve its relations with the U.S. In exchange for being allowed to participate in the game, the French support the option of possibly turning the Iranian case over to the UN Security Council. However, the U.S.' yielding is also interesting: It could reflect a certain concern that the Europeans will get everything in a peaceful agreement with Iran and nothing will be left for the U.S. As usual, it is all at least to some extent about business."

"Alliance Against The Bomb"

Senior editor for independent daily Salzburger Nachrichten Helmut L. Mueller noted (3/14): "If the mullahs in Iran are to bend at all in the matter of their nuclear program, it will only be when they sense that Americans and Europeans stick to a common strategy to prevent Iran's rise to becoming a nuclear power. All too long did the differences between the U.S. and the EU regarding the nuclear issue offer the mullahs the option of playing the members of the Atlantic Alliance off against each other.The transatlantic agreement is therefore a big step forward. Whether this will turn into a viable 'alliance against the bomb' remains to be seen.... At any rate, differences with regard to method remain: The U.S. does not want the nuclear poker game to drag on for too long--the Americans finally want clarity with regard to the Iranian intentions. The Europeans want to make full use of diplomatic means to avert the Damocles sword of a military strike."

DENMARK: "Fear Of The U.S. Is Driving Iran's Nuclear Program"

Center-left Politiken carried the following analysis by its chief Middle East correspondent, Herbert Pundik (3/20):"American politics is suffering from tunnel vision. Washington is so absorbed in its own self-righteousness that it appears unable to understand the motives and interests of its opponents. Iran is a case in hand. Bush has gone on the record as stating that it is his Administration's aim to forces a regime change in Iran. But U.S. attempts to isolate Iran and prevent it from attaining nuclear weapons, is an important reason why the religiously dominated country is surviving.... Unless the U.S. realizes that it is the very fear of America that is driving Iran's nuclear ambitions, there is little prospect of meaningful negotiations with Teheran in the future."

IRELAND: "Europe Again Tries To Break Impasse On Iranian Nuclear Program"

Lara Marlowe remaked in the center-left Irish Times (3/23): "Iranian, French, British and German officials will meet today at the foreign ministry on Paris in the hope of breaking the impasse on the future of the Iranian civil nuclear energy program...If the talks break down, Teheran will resume enrichment as it is entitled to do having signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and additional protocols. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran failed to declare its nuclear activities for two decades, but is now complying with the treaty. Washington has made clear its intention to seek sanctions in the United Nations Security Council if Teheran resumes enrichment.... To Washington's consternation, Teheran and Moscow last month agreed that Russia will provide fuel for the reactor, then repatriate spent rods. At a joint press conference on March 18th, the leaders of Russia, Germany and France said there was 'no contradiction' between Russia's policy towards Iran and the E3 countries who are negotiating to halt the enrichment of uranium there.... Negotiations have stalled, with Iran saying: 'We have the right...', to which Washington retorts: 'But we don't trust you.'"

"Argument For Engaging Iran Makes Good Sense"

Paul Gillespie asserted in the center-left Irish Times (3/19): "This week the United States agreed to go along with the three European states which have been negotiating with Iran on its nuclear power program in an effort to reach agreement that it should cease enriching uranium and plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear weapons. It is a significant gesture following George Bush's fence-mending trip to Europe.But it is hedged with ambiguity about how far Washington is prepared to go in providing economic carrots for good behavior and eventual security guarantees to convince Iran it does not need to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent against a U.S. or Israeli attack. Talks next week will determine whether it is possible to make progress along these lines by the summer. The Iranians deny they intend to make nuclear weapons and say enrichment is to provide them with more resources for nuclear fuel.... Student movements have come out in support of the nuclear program, which they see as coming under attack from Israeli and U.S. interests who want to see a regime change in the country. This strain of nationalism cannot be underestimated in Washington by those who contemplate a military strike. They also need to understand Iran's sense of strategic encirclement, which might encourage it to take the lurch towards nuclear weapons.... There is certainly a debate among the leadership on whether to go for nuclear weapons as the best way to defend sovereignty.... Those who know Iran say it is a vibrant society with a lively culture which resists absorption by the West but is open to influence from abroad on its own terms. Only a small minority would welcome regime change or democracy imposed externally by the Americans. Those who advocate such change have little understanding of how deeply unpopular the U.S. is in the region, where it seen as an agent of Israel. It is much too soon to say this will change radically, even if there is a wave of democracy and progress towards an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. The argument for conditionally engaging Iran makes good sense, given these cleavages over economic and social policy."

"U.S. And Israel Willing To Attack Iran In Nuclear Row"

Tom Clonan commented in the center-left Irish Times (3/15): "Having given diplomatic warnings to Iran on its nuclear program, the U,S. is preparing for possible military action.Iran has been given until June of this year to suspend all activities which might lead to the manufacture of fissile material suitable for use in nuclear warheads....The question remains as to whether the IAEA, EU, U.S. and UN can trust Iran to confine its nuclear ambitions to exclusively peaceful ends. Last week Pakistani information minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed admitted that rogue Pakistani nuclear expert Abdul Qadeer Khan had secretly sold Pakistani nuclear secrets and equipment to the Iranians. Dr. Khan's clandestine assistance to Iran is uncomfortably reminiscent of the way that he reputedly assisted the North Koreans to realize their ambitions to develop a viable nuclear weapon.... Iran has also of late begun obstructing the work of IAEA inspectors by refusing them entry to suspected nuclear facilities.... Israel has been eyeing these developments uneasily.... Israel has a reputation for pre-emptive air strikes.Bearing this in mind, in light of recent weapons and aircraft procurement deals secured with the U.S., Israel, if so inclined, could shortly be in a position to destroy Iran's subterranean nuclear facilities at will. In June last year, the Israelis closed a deal with the U.S. government to buy up to 5,000 joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) conversion kits including guided bomb units for use with specially designed one-ton 'bunker-buster' bombs....The Israeli and U.S. military have begun major joint air defense exercises in Israel.... The timing of such joint endeavors sends a clear message to Teheran. If diplomacy fails and Iran fails to comply with international demands, the U.S. and Israel are signaling their willingness and ability to use missiles and air strikes to achieve disarmament."

"EU, U.S. Agree Iran Incentive Policy On Nuclear Activities"

Denis Staunton remarked from Brussels in the center-left Irish Times (3/12): "The EU and the United States have agreed a joint approach to persuade Iran not to build a nuclear weapons, offering economic incentives but holding out the threat of sanctions if Teheran does not co-operate.... The EU statement was part of an agreement with Washington, which has until now opposed offering any incentives to Iran, arguing that Teheran should not be rewarded simply for fulfilling its obligations as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last night said Washington's support for economic incentives was meant as an endorsement of European diplomacy rather than as a reward for Iran. The EU-U.S. agreement follows president George Bush's visit to Europe last month, when he said he would consider European ideas on how best to resolve the dispute. The U.S. will not join the European talks with Iran, but Washington's agreement to back economic incentives represents a dramatic shift in policy."

LUXEMBOURG: "Important Alliance"

Marcel Kieffer commented in conservative Luxemburger Wort (3/13): "The new statutory transatlantic unity, solemnly celebrated in Brussels, makes its way forward.The announcement stating that the U.S.A. and the EU agreed upon a common strategy towards Iran was, in many ways, positive news. On the one hand, it meant that a common transatlantic position would have much more effect in Teheran than if America and Europe wouldn't agree on the question of how to address best a nuclear threat by the Mullah Regime. To prove once more that the new agreement was a compromise, one should quote the willingness of the heretofore menacing Bush Administration's turn to the 'carrot and the stick.' In the meantime, the EU accepted that if negotiations failed, the affair would be transferred to the UN Security Council without delay. This reinforces simultaneously Washington's view to strengthen pressure on Teheran, which obviously is not much interested in working out an agreement.The most important aspect from a European point of view is that no new Middle East conflict could occur without the EU being included in the dialogue and decisions. An appeasing factor, no doubt. Moreover, it proves to be a success for Luxembourg's ongoing efforts towards a transatlantic reconciliation since it took over the presidency of the EU."

SPAIN: "Israel And The Iranian Bombs"

Independent El Mundo wrote (3/15):"The threat of an Iranian bomb is dangerous, but a possible Israeli reprisal could set fire to all of the Near and Middle East, destroying the current and difficult efforts towards pacification. For that reason is necessary that this threat is banished.... The U.S., after sending severe warnings to Teheran, has joined with the EU position, offering important economic, technological, and political incentives to the Iranians for them to, in turn abandon all of their nuclear military program. It is a good path. But...what would happen if Iran doesn't give up its attempt, maybe continuing it in secret?"

MIDDLE EAST

ISRAEL: "The Americans Should Be Worried, Too"

Aviation affairs correspondent Arye Egozi wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/20):"Israel has every reason to be worried about the Iranian-Ukrainian missile deal: this is an upgrade of delivery systems in advance of the day Iran will have nuclear capability.... The U.S. administration is no less worried than Israel regarding Iran's Cruise missiles.... The Iranian cruise missiles change the map of regional threats. The Iranians can use them to strike the U.S. forces deployed in the Middle East."

"How To Deter Iran"

Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/10):"Israel's deterrence must include several layers of protection. It must try not to stand alone against Iran, but to be part of a large organization.In light of the nuclear developments in Iran, Israel must give top priority to achieving a defense alliance with the U. S.... From Israel's point of view, the political solution to the Iranian nuclear problem is preferable.But Israel must prepare the military option for itself, as well. Such an option should be developed quietly, and not with belligerent statements and a show of strength, as is customary here from time to time.In the military option, we have to build the appropriate force, prepare the plans, and examine methods of clandestine activity inside Iran, as well. At the same time, we must not evade questions such as: What can Israel gain from employing a military option, and what will the Iranian response be."

"Don't Wobble, Mr. President"

Extreme right-wing columnist Caroline B. Glick wrote in the conservative, independent Jerusalem Post (3/10):"This week saw Pakistan admit that the father of its nuclear program, A.Q. Khan, sold nuclear centrifuges to Iran. It saw thousands of Pakistani women demonstrating against tribal rapes. It saw thousands of Kuwaiti women demonstrating for the right to vote. And it saw Bush nominate John Bolton, one of the strongest voices for moral clarity and firm action against terrorists and their state sponsors in the world, as U.S. ambassador to the UN. All of these events are indicators of the power of presidential resolve to change the world for the better while successfully routing terrorists and the regimes that sponsor them.Yet all of this will mean little if, when tested on the frontlines of the battle between the forces of terror and the forces of democracy in the PA and Lebanon, the Bush administration allows the European obstructionists and their terror allies to take the lead."

SYRIA: "Targeting Teheran To Cover Tel Aviv"

Maha Nahas, a commentator in government-owned Syria Times, wrote (3/15): "The U.S. campaign against the Iranian nuclear file aims to perpetuate Israeli nuclear installations and to ignite the 'ideological' difference between Washington and Teheran so that Americans feel that Iran has become as an enemy to them.Of course such feelings are magnified, exaggerated and incorrect. There is no justification for American escalations against Iranian nuclear facilities.This can be understood if it came within the framework of a campaign to make the region free of mass-destruction weapons including Israel. But the American administration does not believe in this comprehensive and objective vision. It has a strong obsession in keeping Israel out of and above international law.The neo-conservatives are working to make Israel the master of the region's states by all means and illegitimate policies. In order to avoid an American-Iranian confrontation on Iraqi-Iranian borders, observers do not rule out that Sharon would direct a blitz on Iranian reactors on behalf of Washington."

EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

AUSTRALIA: "The Real Nuclear Crisis"

An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald stated (3/16): "The international hand wringing over Iran's nuclear ambitions risks obscuring the larger issue. Globally, nuclear non-proliferation strategies are on the brink of collapse.Nuclear policing now lies mainly in the hands of a self-appointed crisis response team, led by the United States but recently joined by the European Union.... Washington's recent policy shift to back the EU on Iran, having previously rejected the notion of rewarding rogue regimes for dismantling illegal nuclear programs, is certainly a significant step forward in harmonizing the West's approach.But this does not alter the fact that there is no workable global non-proliferation strategy in place. And until there is, the world is fighting spot fires, not the real blaze....The inadequacy of enforcement under the outdated structures of the treaty is clear. But the treaty has also been greatly weakened by the nuclear five, which have made no meaningful moves towards disarming. Instead, the Bush Administration has proposed moving so-called "mini-nukes" into America's first strike armory, and continues to turn a blind eye to Israel's undeclared nuclear capacity, a constant source of friction with the Arab world. Such inconsistencies can only continue to erode the moral authority of the very governments seeking to rid the world of the perils of illegal nuclear weapons."

CHINA: "Why Doesn't The U.S. Hold Direct Talks With DPRK?"

Quan Yuhong commented in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (3/8):"The reasons that the Bush administration refuses to have direct talks with DPRK are as follows: first, they did not want to walk on the old road of the first DPRK nuclear crisis; second, they believe that the DPRK won't give up its nuclear weapons, but rather will continue to hold on to them as a means of blackmail against the U.S.Though the Bush administration reiterated that the U.S. has no intention of making war against the DPRK, the White House has refused to give up its hostile policy against the DPRK.Meanwhile, other international and regional issues facing the Bush administration warrant that it not hold direct talks with DPRK.... The U.S. still insists that the Six-Party Talks are the best way to resolve the crisis.Of course, there is still a possibility that the U.S. and DPRK will have direct talks once the Six-Party Talks are resumed."

JAPAN: "North Korea's Disarmament Imperative"

Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (3/13):"There is no magic formula to a quick resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. Pyongyang itself appears to be in a difficult domestic situation. Neighboring countries have no choice but to negotiate patiently with the reclusive state. No dictatorship is eternal. Neither can nations survive forever in international isolation. Considering the harsh conditions in North Korea, it is unlikely that Pyongyang can overcome economic difficulties by itself.Judging from past experience, a significant degree of tension and pressure are imperative in order to seek concessions from the resistant nation."

"Anti-Secession Law Aimed at Curbing Taiwanese Independence Moves"

Liberal Asahi's correspondent report from Beijing said (3/9): "Beijing's frustration and fear over Taiwanese President Chen's independence ambitions appears to have prompted the drafting of the Chinese Anti-Secession Law, which calls for 'non-peaceful means' to be used as a last resort when stopping secession. The legislation would provide the Chinese government with legal grounds to use force against Taiwan. However, checking Chen's move toward independence seems to be the real aim of Beijing's new legislation. The Bush administration appears to be increasingly concerned over escalating China-Taiwan tension amid other international challenges, including Iraq's reconstruction, Middle East peace talks, repairing relations with Europe and the nuclear standoff with North Korea and Iran. During her planned tour to Beijing later this month, Secretary of State Rice is expected to urge PRC officials to exercise restraint."

TAIWAN: "Why Is Secretary Rice Coming To China?"

Niu Xinchun, Liu Aicheng and Ren Yan commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (3/16): "Secretary Rice is visiting China a little bit 'late.' Although the China-U.S. relationship is a major focal point of the current administration, currently China matters are not urgent matters. The most pressing issue for the U.S. in Asia right now, of course, is the North Korea nuclear issue. From the recent tough attitude of Rice, analysts think the U.S. does not plan to make concessions anytime soon. Experts indicate two things will compel Rice to talk tough during the trip. First, the U.S. senior military officials perceive China as one of their most important threats. Second, in view of China's rise, Rice stressed to improve U.S. relations with its Asian allies. It shows the U.S. concerns about China's increasing influence in Asia. Powell laid a good foundation for the stable development of U.S.-China relations during his term. Now Rice will try to continue along Powell's path. Therefore, U.S. China policy under Rice won't change much.Rice's trip also lays the groundwork for a presumed visit to China this year by George Bush.The atmosphere will be good."

INDONESIA: "Self-Criticism Of OIC Countries"

Muslim intellectual Republika commented (3/16): "Israel reportedly will attack and destroy Iran's nuclear facility...under the codename of Osirak II.It is not clear yet whether Israel will carry out its plan or whether it will only serve as a warning to Iran that it should not continue its nuclear ambition. But let us assume that attack will really happen. What will happen then?Would the countries grouped under the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) be able to stop the crazy plan of the Zionist country to attack one OIC member? Throughout its history since its inception in 1969, OIC has not been able to do much when it has confronted Israel or the U.S.Just look what happened when Israel destroyed Baghdad's ambition to possess nuclear weapons....As usual, the organization condemned Israel but failed to make any real decisions or launch any real actions such as retaliation by destroying Israel's nuclear facilities, or sanctions on countries that supported Israel.The attitude of only 'condemning andcondemning' has apparently become a standard response that OIC likes to take. Just look when Israel has many times brutally massacred dozens or even hundreds of Palestinians, and also when the U.S. massacred civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. Once again, there is nothing that the OIC countries can do except condemning."

"Iran Not Discouraged By U.S.-EU Strong Pressure"

Leading independent daily Kompas commented (3/14): "The U.S. and the European Union again launched strong pressure against Iran on its nuclear program, but the Persian Gulf country did not show any fear whatsoever.On the contrary, it demonstrated a defiant stance by saying it would continue its nuclear program.The efforts to pressure Iran have been increasing since last week after the U.S. and the EU finally agreed to take a common approach toward Iran. They agreed to combine the economic aid approach with strong sanctions, including a military attack. The U.S. and EU will provide an economic incentive if Iran ends its nuclear program.Should the economic offer be rejected, they would bring the nuclear issue to the UN and Iran could face difficult sanctions, including a military strike under a UN mandate. It seems likely that the issue will be brought to the UNSC given Iran's reaction and stance.Iran shows no sign of stepping back despite increasing U.S. and EU pressure. The Iran nuclear issue i s sensitive because it involves ideological and political bias, terrorism and dignity. Iran would not let its dignity be trampled upon in this nuclear issue."

SOUTH KOREA: "The Message of U.S. Secretary Of State Rice's Three-Nation Trip"

Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (3/23): "The core message of Secretary Rice's recent trip to Japan, the ROK, and China is that the North Korean nuclear standoff cannot go on forever. We don't know whether she had a certain deadline in mind. However, her words cannot be ignored because she is the chief of the Bush Administration's foreign policy. North Korea must not see Ms. Rice's warning as a mere bluff. It must pay attention to the fact that the USG and the public have been consistently saying that the North has no choice but to return to the Six-Party Talks. Pyongyang must imagine the consequences if the Bush Administration does not accept its nuclear brinkmanship. Until now, Seoul has been saying that it will never tolerate a nuclear North Korea and that it will play a leading role in resolving the crisis. The problem is how to apply such principles.Seoul must find out what approaches it will employ to achieve its goals with North Korea, which has been refusing to return to the multilateral talks, and the U.S., which has warned that time is running out."

"Rice's Views on North Korea's Nuclear Programs, USFK and Tokdo Islets"

Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (3/21): "Secretary Condoleezza Rice's statements on the three pending issues appear to be a reflection of the fact that the U.S. has been seriously reconsidering the meaning of its alliance with the ROK over the mid-and-long term from at least the time when differences over a resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and USFK role were first exposed, and possibly since the start of the Roh Moo-hyun administration.The changes in the way the ROK is being viewed are palpable above all in the fact that Secretary Rice has made explicit comments on certain matters that, considering the sensitive juncture, might have called for diplomatic vagueness. Recently, of America's two strategic pillars in East Asia, the U.S.-ROK and U.S.-Japan Alliances, Washington has been placing much more importance on its relationship with Japan, and the remarks made by Ms. Rice during this visit confirmed the fact. In the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, the U.S. has been more in tune with Japan than with the ROK, with some in the U.S. believing that the ROK stands alongside China in North Korea's corner.Seoul wanted to reorganize its relationship with Washington, and these new developments are what many predicted would happen if it did. The ROKG made its choice, and the ROK-U.S. relationship has changed. Now is the time for the ROKG to present strategic alternatives that can guarantee the security of the ROK."

"We Pay Attention To Rice's Remarks That Have Become Soft"

Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (3/21):"Ms. Rice's remarks during her Seoul visit seems to be somewhat different from the overall atmosphere in which we saw Washington employing pressure on the North since the beginning of the second Bush Administration. . There are views that Ms. Rice's remarks are some sort of signal that U.S. policy is now focusing on dialogue instead of pressure. Some even go as far as saying that the remarks are an indirect U.S. acknowledgement of North Korea's regime and its system.We still have to see what it really means but let's hope that the remarks by Ms. Rice are a reflection by the U.S. indicating its willingness to be flexible. Furthermore, we hope that her remarks will act as a catalyst, creating some momentum for the stalled Six-Party Talks."

"ROK And U.S. Have Agreed To Resolve The North Korean Nuclear Issue Peacefully"

Independent Dong-a Ilbo editorialized (3/21): "While stressing the need for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, the ROKG has given the impression that it puts more focus on persuading the U.S. in consideration of North Korea's demands, rather than urging the North to return to the multilateral talks without preconditions. On the other hand, the U.S. has made clear that there is no reward to present to the North before the talks resume, and that the current standoff cannot go on forever. There are views that this visit to Seoul by Secretary Rice represents Washington's patience threshold for the nuclear issue. In other words, if Pyongyang refuses to return to the Six-Party Talks by June, the U.S. would take the issue to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against the North. It seems that time is not on North Korea's side. Now is the time for the ROKG to demand flexibility from the North to prevent the situation from heading towards disaster."

"Rice Calls North Korea A 'Sovereign State'"

Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (3/21): "It is meaningful that Secretary Rice acknowledged North Korea as a 'sovereign state' and emphasized that the U.S. has no intention to attack the North. It is because this could be the U.S.'s roundabout answer to North Korea's demand for the withdrawal of Washington's hostile policy toward the North and the U.S. promise of coexistence with North Korea, because acknowledging a country as a sovereign state means recognizing the country's sovereign rights. This kind of remark by Secretary Rice may not be easily satisfactory for the North Korean leadership, which has been demanding an apology from Secretary Rice for labeling the country an 'outpost of tyranny.' However, it is truly exceptional for a high-ranking USG official to call North Korea a 'sovereign state.' Rather than making an issue out of a basic principle of U.S. foreign policy, it is much more beneficial for North Korea to gain more benefits through negotiations in the Six-Party Talks. Until now, we have repeatedly urged the U.S. to express its sincerity to create a breakthrough to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.Now, we ask the North to show a flexible response."

"An Opportunity to Find A Practical Solution To North Korea's Nuclear Problem"

Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (3/21): "The analysis is that, although Secretary Rice cannot retract her 'outpost of tyranny' statement as Pyongyang demanded, she mentioned 'sovereign state' as a diplomatic counterpoint to foster an atmosphere for resuming the Six-Party Talks.We have repeatedly urged Pyongyang to return to the multilateral talks and the U.S. to secure conditions that would lead the North to return to the table. In other words, the U.S. should give the North clear confidence, not only just words, that there will be real progress. From that perspective, Secretary Rice's comments during this visit were insufficient and simply theoretical, having no progress in content.We will continue to watch Secretary Rice's actions and words as she visits China, and hope that her visit to this region will be an opportunity to seriously consider the North Korean nuclear problem and to look for a practical solution."

"If ROK-U.S. Discord Increases Amid Tensions Between U.S., China, And Taiwan"

Independent Dong-a Ilbo editorialized (3/16): "If the confrontation between the U.S., Japan, and China does escalate following Beijing's passage of an anti-secession law against Taiwan, it would be difficult to expect a resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue through the Six-Party Talks.There might be wider differences between the U.S. and China in finding a solution to the nuclear issue, and Washington might explore ways to further pressure North Korea, including using military force advocated by certain hard-line U.S. officials....Furthermore, if a conflict broke out between China and Taiwan, and if Washington wanted to dispatch USFK to the Taiwan Strait in line with its strategy of making USFK as 'mobile forces in Northeast Asia,' would the ROK allow the U.S. move? If so, what would become of our relationship with China?.If the ROK-U.S. Alliance were shaken by bilateral differences over dealing with the North Korean issue, whose support could we expect regarding issues ranging from Tokdo Islets to the history textbooks between the ROK, Japan, and China? The answer lies in the ROK-U.S. Alliance.As the situation becomes complicated and uncertain, we should strengthen our alliance with the U.S."

"Any Problem With ROK-U.S. Mutual Trust In Resolving N. Korea's Nuclear Problem?"

Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (3/14): "Since North Korea's announcement that it has nuclear weapons, the ROK and the U.S. have voiced different opinions over what they see as the North's intentions and how to react. Seoul argues that inter-Korean economic cooperation must go on and that refraining from provoking the North will bring a quicker end to the nuclear standoff.Meanwhile, U.S. politicians and policymakers have voiced a need for hard-line measures such as referring the matter to the UN Security Council or withholding fertilizer aid to North Korea.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's latest remarks that, 'North Korea only took carrots and started breaking their obligations,' and also that, 'You would want to be careful with the North Koreans on front-loading incentives,' seems to be a message that the USG will not consider the alternatives that the ROK and China want.What is even more worrisome is that Secretary Rice made these statements just before her visit to Seoul.... Why would she make her position so clear right before sitting down with the ROKG? It could be seen as a message to the ROKG that Washington will not change its position and that the ball is now in our court....North Korea's nuclear programs are a threat to us as well as a concern for the U.S. We must declare our position of not accepting North Korea's nuclear armament and confirm that there is no difference with the U.S....Furthermore, the ROKG must match its words to its deeds to win the trust of the U.S. Only after such trust is built will the two countries have frank discussions on diplomatic means."

"Kim Jong-Il's Dilemma"

Senior Editorial Writer Kim Hyun-ho observed in conservative Chosun Ilbo (3/8): "Unless North Korea judges that it can seize the initiative against the ROK on the Korean Peninsula and assure its security by improving relations with the U.S. in a drastic and far-reaching manner, the North will not give up its nuclear programs. This is why Pyongyang refuses to attend the Six-Party Talks on its nuclear programs and insists on bilateral talks with Washington. However, the ROK and the U.S. cannot allow North Korea to seize the political and military initiative on the Korean Peninsula.After all, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il would inevitably face a difficult dilemma in which he can neither give up the North's nuclear programs nor continue to insist on possessing nuclear weapons because doing so will only invite further international pressure....The fate of North Korea's nuclear weapons is ultimately related to the issue of what political system the North will turn itself into, whether on its own accord, or under pressure from the outside world. For this reason, the road to resolving the 10-year-old North Korean nuclear standoff still seems distant and bumpy."

NEW ZEALAND: "Explosive Situation"

The center-left Nelson Mail maintained (3/15):"It is difficult to avoid the whiff of hypocrisy over the current clamour for Iran to scrap its nuclear fuel production plans.... Of course, there is every reason to feel disquiet about the Iranian programme....The West believes Iran could just as easily use this technology to create nuclear weapons, and the U.S. and the EU have joined forces to offer economic incentives if it scraps its programme.Iran has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. This means it is obliged to permit inspection by the IAEA.The agency has been appealing for Iran to cooperate more fully.... However, the treaty is double-edged. As well as banning signatory states which do not have nuclear weapons from acquiring them, it also expects that those countries which already have these weapons to progressively reduce their stockpiles. To the contrary, the U.S. is seeking to produce a new generation of more compact nuclear bombs.... Israel's role in the fragile hodge-podge of Middle East nuclear politics is another complication. Though it refuses to acknowledge or confirm its own weapons programme, the widespread belief that Israel has significant nuclear capability helped drive first Iraq and then other states in the region to seek to acquire their own weapons. It seems especially rich for Israel...to state, as it did last month, that it would be unconscionable for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.The problem with the nuclear deterrence argument is that it encourages proliferation....Countries like Iran have every right to see their national security demands as being just as important as those of any other country. If the U.S., Britain and France--among others--can hold nuclear weapons, why can't they? Of course, the last thing the world needs is any more nuclear weapons states, especially 'rogue' or non-democratic ones. But the way to reduce the heat in global security is through honouring the principles of the non-proliferation treaty, not resentment-generating double standards by Western nations."

SINGAPORE: "Preventing Iran From Becoming A Nuclear Power"

The pro-government Straits Times opined (3/19): "Never have the United States and the European Union been as united as they are now about what might be done to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.It took them an unnecessarily long time to decide on a common strategy, but that they have finally done so gives one hope a peaceful resolution might still be possible....It is reality-check time for Iran's leaders. They must decide whether they prefer guns to butter, whether they want their talented people to benefit from hooking up to the global economy or risk a confrontation with the Western powers.... The Non-Proliferation Treaty does allow signatories to pursue uranium enrichment for civilian purposes, but Teheran will have to come up with something better than 'objective guarantees' if the international community is to be convinced it has permanently renounced the bomb. It has offered similar guarantees before, only to have the world discover later that it had reneged on its commitments. With the US and EU now united, there is a chance Iran might be held to its commitments, but they must remain staunch if that chance is not to be lost."

VIETNAM: "'Carrot' Replaces 'Stick'?"

Linh An wrote in Quan Doi Nhan Dan, a daily run by Vietnam's Ministry of Defense (3/16):"Speaking on TV on March 13, U.S. Secretary of State C. Rice affirmed 'Iran is not a target for a U.S. attack at this time' and the U.S. 'will encourage Iran to abandon its nuclear ambition' by assisting the country to join the WTO, something the U.S. has fiercely opposed in the past 30 years.... The U.S. is applying a 'carrot and stick policy' at this time is quite understandable. Continuing using the 'stick' by forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear program and ignoring the fact that the U.S. has absolutely no intelligence information to confirm Iran has a secret nuclear program will just not benefit the U.S.'s role as a superpower. On the contrary, applying a 'carrot policy,' patiently persuading Iran through negotiation and economic assistance will not make the U.S. look weak. Also, that will not only soften Teheran's heart but also win the heart of the EU, who has always favored 'dialogue over confrontation' in the Iran nuclear issue."

SOUTH ASIA

INDIA: "Condoleezza Rice: A 'Promising' Visit"

An analysis in the centrist Hindu by Inder Malhotra stated (3/20): "Successive Secretaries of State of the United States have had their different attitudes towards this country, reflecting both the state of Indo-U.S. relations and personal predilections.... After 9/11, Colin Powell came more than once but his hosts could never be happy with him because of his apparently visceral antipathy to this country and tilt towards Pakistan. In sharp contrast, Condoleezza Rice's brief visit has evoked friendly feelings, despite some continuing differences between the most powerful and most populous democracies. Most, though not all, observers in New Delhi perceive her first sojourn as Secretary of State as "positive" and "promising." Interestingly, her style has also turned out to be distinctive. She had tersely told the media not to expect "any announcements." And yet, no sooner had her aircraft taken off than she radioed a message to her Ambassador here asking him to spread the word that she had offered India civilian nuclear reactors as well as military hardware, including the F-16 multi-role aircraft.Under the sanctions imposed at the time of Pokhran-I, the U.S. has denied this country civilian nuclear technology for 31 years. To lift this restriction at long last has been on the agenda of the "NSSP"--Next Steps in Strategic Partnership--for nearly 15 months. But until Ms. Rice's parleys in New Delhi nothing had moved on this subject, which is of vital interest to India, given its colossal energy needs and the role of nuclear power in bridging the great and growing gap between supply and demand. However, it would be nave to believe that Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation would materialize quickly. Washington, within the Beltway, is infested with non-proliferation fundamentalists who would do all they can to obstruct the flow of civilian nuclear technology and equipment to India. Then there is the problem of giving this country a waiver from the barriers erected by the Nuclear Suppliers' Group."

"Choked Pipeline"

An editorial in Bangalore-based left-of-center Deccan Herald stated (3/16): "The proposed pipeline from Iran through Pakistan to India appears to have run into some trouble with the U.S. government expressing concern over the deal India is negotiating with Iran. The immediate trigger for Washington's concern appears to be its growing confrontation with Iran over the latter's reported possession of nuclear weapons.U.S. Ambassador to India, David Mulford, is said to have conveyed to Petroleum Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Bush Administration's concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions and the uncertainty surrounding the brewing crisis. Mulford apparently asked India to hold off signing the deal with Iran as the U.S. is not sure how events in the Gulf will shape up in the coming months.While the U.S. has not stated what it wants India to do, it is clear that it is applying pressure on India to drop the deal with Tehran. U.S. pressure on India on this project does not come as a surprise as Washington's opposition to countries doing business with Iran is well known. Its opposition has been particularly intense with regard to pipeline projects out of Iran, as these bring Teheran immense revenues.It is not just the Iran-India deal that the U.S. has sought to block. It has done its utmost over the past several years to block deals involving the pipeline route from Central Asian gas fields to the Iranian ports.This is the shortest and hence the most economical pipeline route to carry gas out of the Central Asian fields. The U.S. because of its hostility to Iran has sought to block the route.There are several issues of concern surrounding the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. One is American opposition to the project. Another is that of security for the pipeline, which runs through the strife-torn Baluchistan province.India must ensure that Pakistan will provide fool-proof security to the pipeline and that the project will not be hostage to fluctuations in India-Pakistan relations.... The pipeline project entails long-term Indian investment on fixed infrastructure. Delhi must therefore make its decision after a careful consideration of its risks and returns.India's long-term national interests, not the concerns of other countries, should determine Delhi's decision."

"Trial And Errors"

P.N. Khera argued in the nationalist Hindustan Times (3/16): "Pakistan has finally officially admitted that the father of its nuclear weapon, Abdul Qadeer Khan, did sell centrifuges, used for the manufacture of weapons grade uranium, to Iran but still insists that the Government of Pakistan did not have anything to do with it. The clues are too numerous and widespread to give this charade any credibility....Pakistan's declaration that it would not hand over Khan to any other country should be seen as an admission of guilt and a not-very transparent attempt to save the skin of its senior army personnel who were undoubtedly involved in the transactions as well.This is not very different from the position it has taken with regard to terrorists and mafia dons like Dawood Ibrahim who are residing in Pakistan. The U.S. cannot, now that the whole thing is out in the open, plead ignorance about the implications of Pakistan's activities, especially since-and there should be no doubts about this. The U.S. will be the primary target of any terrorist nuclear strike. Khan's crime is so serious that the world community must set up a legal framework to unravel the trail of clandestine nuclear proliferation.One way to do this is to create a special tribunal for trying Khan, and his Pakistan army associates, as was done in the case of people in former Yugoslavia."

"Let's Move On"

An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times read (3/16): "Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's declaration that Sino-Indian ties were at a 'new stage' could have been dismissed as rhetoric, but for a significant and important addition in his statement. In speaking about the settlement of the long standing boundary dispute between the two countries, the premier came up with the usual elliptical checklist for resolving the border dispute-mutual understanding, mutual accommodation, respect for history and so on. But there was one noteworthy addition-'and accommodation of reality'.... This formula does not meet India's claims, but neither does it satisfy Beijing. But then the whole negotiation is about give and take and the fact that nothing is to be gained by pressing maximal claims. On the contrary, there will be a huge payoff of for both countries in settling the debilitating border dispute and getting on with the business of business....In fact, today, neither India nor China can forcibly take what they claim from each other and such an effort will be fraught with the greatest of dangers since they are both nuclear armed powers.The best option, then, is to sit together and work out the best possible compromise formula and move on."

"U.S. And Israel Threat To Iran"

An editorial in Urdu-language nationalist Rashtriya Sahara said (3/14): "Along with the U.S. now Israel is also directly asking for the termination of Iran's nuclear program. On the other hand, the way the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently intimidated Iran to face UN sanctions if it does not stop its peaceful nuclear program makes the world body appear not as an entity representing international community but just as a department under the American government. Iran has repeatedly clarified that it its nuclear program was peaceful and not only it had no plan to make nuclear weapons. Yet, the U.S.-Israel combine is unwilling to accept any clarification or assurance and making the nuclear program a pretense, Iran is being continuously threatened of military action.Even if Iran had a plan to develop nuclear weapons it would pose no threat to countries like the U.S. and Israel which have huge stockpile of such arms. In fact, the U.S. does not want to allow the third world countries and especially Muslim countries to have nuclear technology even if it is purely for peaceful purposes."

"More Than Words, Please"

An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times stated (3/12): "Pakistan information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has at last officially confirmed what the world has known for a while--that the former head of its nuclear weapons program, A.Q. Khan, gave centrifuges for enriching uranium to Iran.Given Islamabad's track record of prevarication and mendacity, we need not to take this as the whole truth.Whether or not these constitute all the facts is not clear.... Trade in nuclear materials, particularly those that can make nuclear weapons, does not take place on personal whim.... The Khan scandal has been the most serious breach of the non-proliferation taboo in history....The Khan network has put the entire world at risk by its actions. The most worrisome part does not relate to Iran, but to the possible leakage of technology to non-state actors like terrorists who are difficult to influence in the traditional way. Statements from the IAEA and the U.S. suggest that there are still several missing pieces to the proliferation jigsaw-puzzle. These cannot be found till the world community has direct access to Dr. Khan, who is allegedly under house arrest in Islamabad. Mere admission by its ministers or house arrest of the perpetrator are simply not enough to redress the situation. Pakistan needs to do much , much more to reassure the world."

"Danger Of An Israeli Attack On Iran"

An op-ed in centrist The Statesman by columnist Jonathan Power read (3/11): "As the clocks tick toward midnight it is not surprising that, belatedly, Washington has indicated it is behind the European Union's efforts to persuade Iran to forgo the nuclear weapons option, using carrots more than sticks. (Even President Bush can see the complexities of an attack on Iran).One wishes the joint effort well.But will it have much effect unless the Arab states and Israel also join the cause? Now that Saddam is defeated, Israel must seriously consider foregoing its nuclear weapons as part of a grand bargain with Iran. And the other Arab states, which are covertly developing the possibility of going nuclear, must open up and renounce the effort as Libya recently did. That is a big apple to bite and will demand some ingenious, combined Western diplomacy.But present day piecemeal bites come up against a hard core of intractable problems--and the very real danger that Israel, feeling time is working against it, may lash out with its own attack and damn the consequences."

"Spare The World A Nuclear 9/11"

Former Foreign Secretary Jagat S. Mehtanalysis expressed this view in the centrist India Express (3/11): "The greatest threat to peace and stability in the 21st century comes from two irrationalities: anti-Americanism and Islamaphobia; one certainty--poverty in all its ramifications and, one, probability--nuclear terrorism. The emphasis varies subjectively on the origin and consequences but they are all inter-related. The most dangerous may be nuclear terrorism. Arresting nuclear proliferation has concentrated on inter-governmental diplomacy ... Conditioned mindsets have failed to grasp fully how 9/11 has not restricted wars or influenced international politics.... The US remains the primary target and Manhattan could become a Hiroshima.... There are two pairs of nuclear powers which are meteorologically linked. UK and France; the first power recently celebrated the century of entente; only India and Pakistan are adversarially targeted.... I labeled 'nuclear terrorism' as "probable" but we know fundamentalists are at large. The Indian and Pakistani governments should be particularly concerned to initiate prophylactic ways to preempt a nuclear 9/11. India and Pakistan should jointly or simultaneously abdicate the weapon program. Both should have a critical national interest in promoting universal adherence to the Fissile Material Control Treaty. Instead of being the 'most dangerous nuclear twins', India and Pakistan could regain the moral high ground and urge full scope IAEA safeguards on all nuclear reactors.... In our subcontinent, who strikes first and who would retaliate is immaterial; both countries are hostages to the irresponsibility of the disaffected few.The effort at preventing a nuclear 9/11 could reinvigorate the only pluralist civilization which has had no religious wars or crusades. India and Pakistan could moderate the irrationality of anti-Americanism and Islasmaphobia."

"A Theater Of Mistaken Missiles"

Security analyst Kartik Bommakant commented in the centrist India Express (3/11): "The government's current negotiations with the U.S. on possible purchase of the Patriot battery system as part of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership deserves a critical examination. Reflecting on the broader debate about the establishment of a Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) system, there really is no merit in acquiring such a system....If hostilities were to break out between India and Pakistan, the Pakistanis are unlikely to play a game of chess with us, whereby we make a move and they make a countermove in order to keep a conflict 'limited'.... In short, any potential conflict would not be limited, in fact it would be devastating, if not total....Merely because the U.S., Australia and Japan are deploying a TMD, it does not mean we do the same. The U.S. and Japan's motivation for deploying TMD is partly borne out of concern over the proliferation of missile and nuclear capabilities on the Korean Peninsula.... India's policy needs to be attuned to the political realities of South Asia's strategic context, instead of serving as an extension of U.S. security policy.The vertical and horizontal proliferation of missile capabilities between India, Pakistan and China is not without merit. Through the deployment of a TMD system India would have to prepare for two probable and destabilizing strategic scenarios. The first would be an immediate boost to the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership.We may possibly end up giving a fillip to their existing relationship, making it more cooperative in the realm of missile development. In short this would be a recipe for a sustained three-cornered arms race with disastrous results. Strategists who support TMD need to ask themselves will recourse to TMD enable us to overcome or dampen Pakistani subversion in Kashmir and offer a greater range of options?... The deployment of a TMD system would only complicate our strategic calculus with Pakistan and most importantly with China."

"Needed: New Clear Policy"

An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times asserted (3/8): "Moral' critiques-talking only of mushroom clouds-of nuclear technology in India forget the glittering silver lining. Nuclear power can be a big energy source for an economy slated for the big league.... Nuclear power contributes less than 4 per cent of energy needs. It is imperative it contributes more. That it is possible is shown by the 540 Mwe reactor in Tarapur going critical.Built indigenously, because of and despite global technology sanctions, and completed ahead of schedule and at less-than-estimated costs - rare Indian traits - the Tarapur 4 project is the first in an impressively long line: But the heavy water glass will remain half-empty unless two things are mixed in ... First, enough fuel. India's uranium supply-around 78,000 tones, of which 54,000 tons are proven reserves-is not enough. Fortunately, it has 25 per cent-290,000 tons-of global thorium reserves....Second, clever diplomacy.India seeks recognition as a responsible nuclear State. Big powers don't quite agree, and express that point of view through the NPT, the Nuclear Supplies' Group (NSG) and the Zangger Committee. Part of that disagreement is to do with protecting technology turf.But India doesn't gain by not budging.It doesn't allow international inspection of domestically built facilities and of the weapons program.It loses out on technology and funding. India has an impeccable record, rather unlike our neighbor's, on not selling nuclear technology. A bargain could be to first allow inspection of all power reactors and then talk of safe-guards for other civilian use facilities. Weapons facilities, of course, should always remain a solely Indian business.If India shows transparency, it can demand flexibility."

"Critical Acclaim"

An editorial in the centrist Tribune declared (3/8):"It was a proud moment when the first and the largest (540 mega watt) nuclear plant went critical at Tarapur on Sunday. It is a Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor that uses natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator and coolant.... It took five years for the Tarapur-4 reactor to be commissioned. The concept, design, manufacturing technology and fabrication of equipment have all been done indigenously. It seems that the cost of the reactor has come to less than what was originally envisaged, leading to a lower rate being charged for the power generated there, which will be Rs. 2.65, instead of Rs. 3.50....This reactor will add to the total nuclear power generation of 2,770 MW. There have been some concerns about safety in nuclear establishments, especially since some workers were exposed to high radiation levels in 2003. Safety has to be ensured in all nuclear establishments. The new reactor is said to have a state-of-the-art containment system. The initial international reaction to the commissioning of the plant has been cautious and mature. India had a demonstrated commitment to peace and has also shown that it is not dependent on anyone for nuclear fuel. The commissioning of the new reactor is an important milestone in the nation's march towards self-reliance."

PAKISTAN: "Pakistan's Nuclear Dilemma"

A.R. Siddiqi remarked in the Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn (3/25): "U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at her joint press conference with Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri during her recent visit to Islamabad did not mince words about the threat potential of Dr. A.Q. Khan's nuclear 'entrepreneur ship'. The Khan network, she said, represented a threat 'not just to the United States, but to Pakistan, to the region, to the international community'.A statement simple in verbiage but ominously loaded in intent.... Pakistan might well have gone out of its way to assuage U.S. anxiety on that score, yet, apparently, not far enough to get down to the bottom of the case.In other words, to bring the culprit to book and punish him to meet the ends of American justice, ala Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay style.... How can Pakistan boast of ensuring foolproof security of its nuclear assets with whole centrifuges and allied equipment being flown out of Islamabad airport either direct to the end-user or to Karachi for onward shipment to destination?This is a question calling for a categorical answer to satisfy the world community as well as our own public."

"Hafiz Saeed And The Alleged Nuclear Connection"

Khaled Ahmed commented in the Lahore-based English-language liberal independent weekly Friday Times (3/25):"The latest flurry in the American press is about 'nuclear proliferation' by A.Q. Khan. Also, writers in the United States are linking the jihadi organizations to this proliferation. One much discussed linkage is Hafiz Saeed whose militia, Lashkar-e-Tayba, has already been banned.... Dr. A.Q. Khan attended Lashkar-e-Tayba gatherings accompanied by other nuclear scientists of his establishment, including Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood, former Director of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and the man who enriched uranium at Khushab (Washington Times 30 December 2003). Lashkar is alleged to have helped in equipping al-Qaida with 'dirty' bombs."

"BJP Wants IAEA To Take Action Against Pakistan"

The Lahore-based liberal Daily Times published (3/23): "The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) called for action to be taken against Pakistan for nuclear proliferation, rather than Iran and North Korea. Former External Affairs minister Yashwant Sinha suggested launching a diplomatic bombardment targeting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to punish Islamabad, 'Because nuclear proliferation could not have been possible without their government's active support, knowledge and approval'."

"No Room For Optimism"

An editorial in the center-right national English-language Nation opined (3/21): "State Department spokesman Adam Ereli has unequivocally absolved the Pakistani leadership of any role in Dr. A.Q. Khan proliferation network's operation.His words: 'We certainly don't see any connection (of this activity) with the leadership of Pakistan.'In his news briefing in Washington, while answering a question, he rather played up Islamabad's part in revealing what the network was really doing and thus putting the U.S. in the picture.Previously, it only had "information" or "indications" that proliferation was going on. On the face of it, the statement, apart from putting the nation's apprehensions at rest that its nuclear program could be threatened, should relieve the government of the worry that media's fears of high-level involvement could become subject to U.S. indictment with virtually open-ended consequences. But, despite Secretary Rice's recent reiteration of her country's intentions to maintain long-term relations with Pakistan, one should be wary of its whims, changes of policies and perceptions about our usefulness in projecting its interests.It can any time turn round and 'find' additional clues to high-level complicity in the sordid affair without any tangible proof, as it did in the case of Baghdad, for instance....However, the visit of experts from the Nuclear Suppliers Group next month to hold talks and assess whether controls are in place to prevent illicit export of the sensitive equipment and materials would call for extraordinary efforts to satisfy their concerns that past lapses can no longer recur in view of the legislation Pakistan has passed, and stringent executive measures taken. We should forget about getting their consent for NSG's membership in the foreseeable future in the light of American disinclination to endorse our request, which became evident during Dr. Rice's recent visit, and which incidentally proves the USA's lingering distrust of our assertions about controls."

"Empty Words Will Not Do"

An editorial in the centrist national English-language News commented (3/19): "It is President Musharraf's good work as an ally in the global war on terror that helped U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice take a quite balanced approach on the issue of democratization in Pakistan. Her praise for General Musharraf's role in the war on terror as well as creating amicable relationship with India to ensure stability in a region considered a nuclear flashpoint, in fact indicates Washington's 'no objection' to the Pakistani president holding dual offices.... Her interactions with Pakistani officials and leadership may have guaranteed political assurances for the government, but there was no commitment to strategic and financial support, as was perhaps expected.In fact no concrete guarantees were furnished even on the lingering issue of the delivery of F-16s aircraft at a time when Pakistan is feeling uneasy with India's arms shopping in the international market for the most sophisticated weapons and surveillance systems.Islamabad was rightly hoping that Washington would help maintain the strategic balance in South Asia, as a measure to retain Pakistan's attention to the objectives of the ongoing global war on terror. However, Rice made no such promises.... The United States must acknowledge the kind of pressures that Islamabad has to bear for fighting a war that is not of its making. At the same time, Pakistan has to strive hard to keep a balance of power in the South Asian region as the only way to ensure stability. It needs support from its international partners in overcoming is strategic stresses. Unless praises and promises are converted into tangible support, Islamabad may find it hard to give its best to the attainment of the goals of the global anti-terrorism drive."

"Rice Winds Up"

An editorial in the center-right national English-language Nation said (3/19): "At a joint press conference with Mr. Khurshid Kasuri, Secretary Rice expressed her views on various issues of concern to the U.S. and Pakistan, one or two at some length, others rather hurriedly and evasively. About Dr. A.Q. Khan's proliferation network she was disturbingly emphatic: 'it must be eliminated with the assurance that it never resurfaces.' She did not stop at that, but added that it was most important to know how the proliferation took place so that safeguards against that kind of black-market entrepreneurship in the future could be built.... For the present, Washington, needing Islamabad's help in stabilizing situation in Afghanistan, rooting out Al-Qaida outfit and, in general, fighting its international war on terrorism, would not, perhaps, press the last point.Nor would it necessarily insist on demanding direct access to Dr. Khan. But as the terrorist threat recedes, the political climate takes another turn and a U.S. administration of another political philosophy comes into the White House, both options could be dusted off and used."

"U.S. Policy On Iran Pipeline Is Wrong"

An editorial in the Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times said (3/20): "The new U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, during her recent visit to India, made plain that Washington does not take kindly to New Delhi's gas pipeline deal with Iran. India, after many years, has recently come round to the idea of an overland pipeline that runs through Pakistan to India. So, the project involves Iran, India and Pakistan. Washington's objection to the pipeline, therefore, affects Pakistan as much as it does India....For its part the U.S. has to deal with Iran's supposed nuclear ambition and wants to put pressure on it.That also requires isolating Iran, presumably the reason for the U.S. to not allow India and Pakistan to make a deal with Iran. But this is a shortsighted policy since it won't stop Iran from moving along the nuclear path while denying Pakistan transit fees and India the end product.It is important that Islamabad and New Delhi, in tandem, sell this point to the Bush administration.Iran must be stopped from going nuclear but such an effort cannot be made at the cost of India and Pakistan.Further, Iran has already offered the U.S. a 50 percent share in any future nuclear program to assure Washington that it is pursuing the option for peaceful purposes. The U.S. must try and explore this opening further rather than pushing Iran in a corner and forcing Tehran's hand into doing something desperate.

"Nuclear Program: President Must Clarify"

An editorial note in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt observed (3/16): "The Foreign Office Spokesman has also said that Pakistan is secretly cooperating with the IAEA. The IAEA has also asked Pakistan to provide used parts of centrifuges for inspection. What kind of secret cooperation is the government providing to the IAEA?...Would this not make friendly states suspicious about our cooperation?.... The government must announce its support for brother Islamic country Iran. Why should Iran be attacked? Iran is an independent, sovereign state and has the right and freedom to keep weapons for its defense. It does not need to seek anyone's permission for this. The freedom and rights that America considers just and fair for Israel should also be considered permissible for all Muslim countries."

"Secret Cooperation With The International Atomic Energy Agency"

An editorial in populist Urdu-language Khabrain commented (3/16): "The statement by Foreign Office spokesman that Pakistan is secretly cooperating with the IAEA is no less than a revelation.... There is a need to stop this process of revelations (about our nuclear program) so that people do not get the opportunity to criticize it. The government's decision not to hand over Dr. Qadeer to any foreign country is appropriate. It would also be good if the government clarifies reports that the U.S. is assisting Pakistan in safeguarding its nuclear assets."

"Our Own Worst Enemy"

An op-ed by Shireen M. Mazari in the centrist national English-language News read (3/16): "It is truly amazing to how cavalier our ruling elite can be on the sensitive nuclear issue. We had the information minister linking Dr. A. Q. Khan to the sale of centrifuges to Iran, even though Iran, to date, has not named either Dr Khan or Pakistan in this connection to the IAEA....Pakistan's nuclear assets are a focal point of U.S. policy interests and could well become a source for future punitive action, as happened in the past with nuclear-related sanctions.So, what is on the U.S. agenda these days in terms of punitive actions? Clearly, to up the ante against Iran in this region, along with putting Syria under pressure.... However, the nuclear issue continues to cast its shadow over Pakistan because of our own machinations, which allow others to make statements and assumptions and get away with it. Denials from our side seem to increasingly suffer from a credibility gap because our political elite speaks with so many varied voices.... This is a critical time for our region and we need to speak with greater circumspection and in unison on sensitive issues. Ms Rice's visit is not simply a 'getting-to-know' visit, given that she has been one of the architects of Bush Jr's aggressive and unilateralist foreign policy.With the U.S. militarily and politically on the aggressive from Iraq to Syria to Palestine-Israel to Iran, Rice's statements in connection with our region should be a warning signal."

"Nukes: Two Clarifications"

An editorial in the Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer held (3/16): "The two clarifications are, no doubt, aimed at putting things in proper perspective. In fact, statement of the Information Minister, interpretation given to the remarks by the Western media and mischievous report about handing over of centrifuges to IAEA had caused unrest in the length and breadth of the country.It was widely believed that all this amounted to self-confession and strengthening hands of those who miss no opportunity to create misunderstanding about Pakistan's nuclear program.Similar views were expressed by the Opposition Members while pressing for their adjournment motions on the issue. All said and done, the issue remains alive and this is what the West wants. It is intriguing that all of a sudden the frequency of propaganda reports in the international media has increased.This, coupled with ongoing nuclear related debate, is keeping up the issue alive and this is what the West wants.Their objective is to maintain pressure on Pakistan on different pretexts and create confusions in the minds of the people about the nature and future direction of the program.In this background, the statement of the Information Minister that the country would never compromise its nuclear capability would surely boost morale of the people.But the best course to avoid misunderstanding is to stay away from controversies and ignore purely speculative stories appearing in the Western media with known motives.In fact, Pakistan has developed a very effective and efficient command and control system.Only recently, a report submitted to the U.S. Congress admits that Pakistan's nuclear assets are protected by multiple security layers. It would be also worthwhile if the issue of deliberate leaks to the Western media are taken up seriously during discussions with U.S. Secretary of State."

"N-Warheads Kept Separate From Delivery Systems"

Center-left national English-language Dawn opined (3/15): "Most observers believe that neither Pakistan nor India has so far deployed nuclear warheads mated with delivery systems, says the latest congressional report on nuclear threat in South Asia. The report by the Congressional Research Service, which provides policy guidelines to U.S. lawmakers, says that India and Pakistan accelerated nuclear weapons development, and possibly, deployments after testing their devices in May 1998. Both countries, however, decided to keep the warheads separate from delivery systems to avoid accidents and theft."

"Worrisome News of Centrifuges Dispatch to Vienna"

An editorial in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt said (3/15): "AFP has quoted a western diplomat as having said that Pakistan would send its centrifuges to IAEA to determine links with uranium found in Iranian centrifuges....VOA and VOG have described the news as corollary of American pressure. This news has surfaced at a time when U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, also known as warrior princess, has left for South Asian visit....What demands Condoleezza Rice presents in Islamabad would come to fore when she arrives in Islamabad on March 16.However, Federal Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad's statement that Dr. Abdul Qadeer provided centrifuges to Iran and now claim by a western diplomat that Pakistan is willing to send centrifuges to Vienna are evidence of Pakistan having succumbed to U.S. and IAEA pressure. The government of Pakistan's claims one and half year ago that after the pardon of Dr. Abdul Qadeer the chapter was closed was either self-delusory or just an illusion....The government of Pakistan should explain the correct situation with a reference to the AFP story and should tell the nation that our nuclear and missile program is actually safe and secure."

"Iran-U.S. Nuclear Dispute: Take Steps to Restore Confidence"

Populist Urdu-language Khabrain noticed (3/15):"The international community must be more active in bringing both Iran and the U.S. closer to each other.The U.S. must also give up its stubbornness and participate in the dialogue process. The U.S. must take advantage of President Khatami's offer that "Iran is willing to give international community guarantees that it would use its nuclear program for peaceful purposes." This is indeed a positive development; however, insistence that Iran close down its nuclear plant is not fair...Iran and the U.S must show some flexibility, and the U.S. must take steps to build confidence."

"Tension Over Iran's N. Riddle"

An op-ed by Mazhar Qayyum Khan in the center-right national English-language Nation said (3/15): "Quick developments over the Western attempt spearheaded by the U.S. to stall Iran's supposed ambitions to go nuclear that have taken place in the past several days have set alarm bells ringing not only in the region but also beyond.... Uranium enrichment, Washington's hawks must know, is not merely the government baby; it has been adopted and would be jealously protected by the Iranian people, including those otherwise opposed to the conservative clerics' regimented hold over them.It would be nave to believe that a regime change which President Bush in his last State of the Union address hinted at would turn the table. A pro-U.S. government imposed on the Iranian nation and inclined to wind up the uranium enrichment program would be hounded out of office and its members would soon be seen running for their lives.... Pakistan that inevitably gets dragged in the picture for Dr. A. Q. Khan's role in proliferation would be gravely affected in case the situation goes out of hand and becomes unstable.... As friend of both Iran and the U.S., Pakistan should counsel patient, sane and political resolution of the problem, advising in particular those whose thoughtless actions could do irreversible damage to peace and harmony of the world and set the clock of development back.The hatred and enmity such a move would generate among the Iranian people for the West would be hard to eradicate.A true sense of diplomacy could turn this rancorous issue into a basis for mutual understanding and amity to the benefit of all of us."

"The Iran Quagmire"

The center-right national English-language Nation commented (3/15): "Washington should realize that further isolating Iran by pressing the Security Council for sanctions, or a military strike from Israel - though it amounts for little more than a threat at present - will only serve to further destabilize the already sensitive Middle East. Plans for a regime change to beckon a rollback on the nuclear program are also little more than wishful thinking, as any government replacing the ayatollahs would hold the program just as dear, if it hopes to retain the support of the Iranian people.The Pakistani government's stance should be clear. It must be noted that U.S. pressure on Iran owes more to political considerations than intelligence findings (which were thoroughly exposed as a sham by the Iraqi WMD scandal). Similarly, Pakistan's nuclear program is safe at present because of American political considerations.Therefore, at this crucial point, the Pakistani standpoint should not be one that invites more international pressure on Iran, especially after the Information Minister's ill-timed confirmation of centrifuge transfer under the alleged patronage of Dr. A.Q. Khan's network.That reports of Pakistan giving used centrifuge parts to the IAEA for investigation have turned out to be baseless is encouraging and probably comes after top level consultation with Teheran. Islamabad ought to travel this dangerous road carefully, lest political considerations change and it finds itself accused of being a party to the crime."

"Fear Of Israeli Attack On Iran's Nuclear Installations"

An editorial in leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang assured (3/15): "The statement by Israeli Prime Minister that in case of failure of diplomacy, Israel will attack the nuclear installations of Iran has some very dangerous repercussions.That the Israel has made a plan to attack the sensitive installations of an independent and sovereign country and has also announced it, is so much dangerous in itself that if any other country had done it then there would have been a great uproar in Europe and America. But since the Israeli premier has made this announcement, so nobody is saying anything. Although the UN should have taken a note of this Israeli plan, which it has not, therefore all the global and regional peace-loving powers should take a serious note of it and should devise means to stop Israel from implementing this dangerous plan."

"Dangers for Nuclear Program: Government Should Allay People's Apprehensions"

An editorial in center-right Urdu-language Pakistan read (3/15): "The people of Pakistan are aghast that on one hand Pakistan is in the middle of America's war against terrorism and on the other hand it is facing the American wrath and being trapped. Federal Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed's recent statement has also created doubts in general public. The government of Pakistan should clarify the situation and take the people into confidence that Pakistan's defense is in safe hands and that the country's nuclear program cannot be a target of any conspiracy."

"Odd Timing"

An editorial in the centrist national English-language News said (3/13): "Mr. Rashid brings to the public domain a vital piece of information that is also sensitive in nature, but what is somewhat puzzling is the timing of this disclosure in the context of international developments on the issue of the Iranian nuclear program. His statement has left no doubts about Iran's capability to enrich uranium, though when this uranium was acquired remains unknown. What also remains doubtful is whether Iran has been able to put these centrifuges to work. It is also unclear whether Dr. Khan only sold the equipment or doled out his technical support with it as well. The statement indeed raised many more questions than answering existing ones. It is yet to be seen how Iran will react to the statement, which also comes when Islamabad and Tehran are discussing expensive gas pipeline projects and other possibilities of economic cooperation and trade. While Mr. Rashid's remark once more underlines Pakistan's resolve to take all actions that are necessary to check nuclear proliferation, Islamabad must understand the complexities in dealing with an issue that involves a neighboring country.Pakistan must not appear to be taking sides, let alone show any leaning towards the international lobby demanding the scrapping of the Iranian nuclear program. It must make it clear to the world community that it will only support a negotiated settlement of the issue and oppose use of force.Although Mr. Rashid called for better sense to prevail and expressed the hope for a dialogue to lead to a settlement, a more forceful assertion is required. It must be balanced between Pakistan's resolve for nuclear non-proliferation and its friendship with Iran."

"Nuclear Dimension Of Pakistan-U.S. Ties"

An op-ed by Tayyab siddiqui in the Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn read (3/10):"In the second term of Bush's presidency, the issue of nuclear non-proliferation is likely to strain Pakistan-U.S. ties that might even reach a point of crisis.In his zeal for the 'war on terror' and in recognition of Musharraf's huge contribution in flushing out the remnants of the Al-Qaeda, the U.S. has chosen to ignore Pakistan's actions and policies in other areas. These could appear in conflict with U.S. objectives. The frequent visits by U.S. officials and lawmakers and their profuse expressions of gratitude and support have created a sense of euphoria in Pakistan.However, now that the war on terror has almost been won, the U.S. may pursue its primary concern of non-proliferation, in total disregard of Pakistan's past performance and sacrifices....The May conference on the NPT will pose a serious challenge to Pakistan, though like India, it is not a signatory to NPT. The provisions of "additional protocols and unannounced and unrestricted inspections" could introduce serious complications in Pakistan-U.S. relations.Pakistan has paid dearly in the past by relying too heavily on American commitments and ignoring ground realities.The issue of nuclear proliferation is looming large on the horizon of bilateral relations. Pakistan's hero is Washington's criminal.The lines of conflict are already drawn."

WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA: "Iran's Last Chance"

The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (3/16): " Iran underscored its misguided resolve this week by issuing a commemorative stamp celebrating the country's achievements in nuclear technology. If that wasn't enough, Iran also made it abundantly clear that European economic incentives would in no way steer it away from pursuing its nuclear program, which it insists is merely for producing electricity but which Washington, Ottawa and others worry is a cover for developing nuclear weapons.... Unfortunately, that kind of international defiance is what we have come to expect from Tehran's rulers. Duplicity, election rigging, support for foreign terrorists and flagrant human-rights abuses (including the brutal murder of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi) -- these are the hallmarks of the Iranian regime.... Washington has agreed to back off its opposition to Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization if Tehran will co-operate and the European Union has offered economic incentives in exchange for a permanent freeze on Iran's uranium enrichment. If Tehran refuses theses carrots at talks next week with Britain, Germany and France (who negotiate on behalf of the EU), it's time to consider United Nations Security Council sanctions.... The whole international community should agree on that."

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