New York Sun: America next week will step up its diplomatic campaign against Iran in an effort to thwart its quest for a nuclear bomb, in anticipation of the coming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The New York Sun
By ELI LAKE
Staff Reporter of the Sun
WASHINGTON America next week will step up its diplomatic campaign against Iran in an effort to thwart its quest for a nuclear bomb, in anticipation of the coming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The campaign for a third U.N. Security Council resolution, however, may be blocked by a side deal announced late last month by the U.N. atomic watchdog, which is charged with monitoring the Islamic Republic’s continuing efforts to enrich uranium.
Last month, the director-general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, announced that Iran had finally agreed to answer unresolved questions on the history of its program. Yet nowhere in the new agreement did Iran agree to end the uranium enrichment activities that have continued unabated for 19 months, activity that has been deemed a violation of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter in two Security Council resolutions.
This month, the State Department is expected to renew the push for a third resolution in the Security Council.
Meanwhile, American diplomats have increased cooperation with France whose new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has taken a tougher public line on Iran and Britain to enforce unilateral sanctions and coordinate diplomacy.
Mr. ElBaradei is asking publicly for the Iranians to be granted more time. In an August 30 interview with the New York Times, the director-general praised the new deal, saying: “This is the first time Iran is ready to discuss all the outstanding issues which triggered the crisis in confidence.”
Yesterday, a Bush administration official who asked to remain anonymous said the IAEA was in danger of losing its status of being an honest broker in the Iran nuclear standoff. “We have committed to the diplomatic route for four years now,” the official said. “The last thing we need is for the director of the IAEA himself to start shielding Iran from diplomatic penalties.”
The diplomatic problem that awaits the Bush administration on Iran may lead to a military option. President Bush has said repeatedly that he neither rules in nor rules out a military attack on Iran’s known nuclear facilities, using the phrase “all options are on the table” when asked whether the Pentagon is planning to bomb Iranian nuclear targets.
Short of bombing the Iranian facilities, however, America is already very much at war with Iran in Iraq, where the top American generals, not to mention the American ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, accuse Iran of arming and funding both Sunni and Shiite terrorists who attack American soldiers.
Yesterday, American forces captured a person described as a high-ranking Iranian agent who the military says was coordinating the transport of Iraqis to be trained in Iranian camps across the border. A press statement from the multinational forces in Iraq said: “The detained individual is suspected of coordinating with high-level (Revolutionary Guard-Quds Force) officers for the transportation of multiple Iraqis to Iran for terrorist training at (Revolutionary Guard-Quds Force) training camps. He is also a known logistics facilitator providing lethal aid to terrorists operating in central Baghdad. It is likely that the affiliate is closely linked to individuals at the highest levels of the (Revolutionary Guard-Quds Force).”
Also yesterday, Iran’s official news agency confirmed the release of an Iranian-American journalist, Parnaz Azima. Ms. Azima, who works for the American funded Radio Farda, a Persian-language radio station, was arrested on charges of working with counter-revolutionary press outlets on a visit to Iran in January. Earlier this week, an Iranian-American scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Institute, Haleh Esfandiari, was allowed to return to America after her arrest on charges of spying. Iran still is believed to be holding two more Americans hostage, including a former FBI official, Robert Levinson.