Iran Nuclear NewsSoften the talk on Iran, ElBaradei urges U.S.

Soften the talk on Iran, ElBaradei urges U.S.

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New York Times: Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the Bush administration on Sunday to soften its statements about Iran while maintaining diplomatic pressure to halt the nuclear enrichment that could lead to the production of a nuclear weapon. The New York Times

BY BRIAN KNOWLTON
Published: October 29, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 — Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the Bush administration on Sunday to soften its statements about Iran while maintaining diplomatic pressure to halt the nuclear enrichment that could lead to the production of a nuclear weapon.

But American lawmakers appearing on Sunday television talk programs were divided on whether efforts to influence Iran had been helped or hindered by the administration’s tough talk.

“We cannot add fuel to the fire,” Dr. ElBaradei said on “Late Edition” on CNN. “I would hope we would stop spinning and hyping the Iranian issue.” He also expressed frustration about the Israeli bombing in September of a building in Syria that analysts say may have contained the beginnings of a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor.

“To bomb first and ask questions later,” he said, was decidedly unhelpful.

In an Oct. 17 news conference, Mr. Bush said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran had “announced that he wants to destroy Israel,” referring to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments that Israel “will disappear soon.” Mr. Bush also said he had “told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

Some Republican lawmakers defended Mr. Bush’s approach to Iran.

“I think the president is dead right,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said when asked about the “World War III” comment on “Face the Nation” on CBS. “I think the president is justified in trying to wake up the world, wake up Russia, wake up the European nations.”

“We need to be more aggressive,” Mr. Graham said. “We don’t need to talk softly, we need to act boldly, because time is not on our side.”

But Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, while calling for a “tighter rope” around Iran, said on the same program that it was crucial not to “just give Iran a propaganda weapon — don’t just give them a can of gasoline to pour onto the fire.”

“That’s what this hot rhetoric does when it’s just constantly repeated about World War III, or ‘We’re going to use a military option,’” said Mr. Levin, who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “We ought to dial down the rhetoric.”

Mr. Levin said the West should offer “carrots” to Iran and not just “sticks,” much as had been done with North Korea.

Dr. ElBaradei made a similar point, saying, “The earlier we follow the North Korea model, the better for everybody.”

Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi and a former majority leader, said on “Late Edition” that he supported the administration’s designation last week of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran as a supporter of terrorism. But he added, “You do need to be careful about the rhetoric.”

Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, denounced what she called administration officials’ “quite irresponsible” comments. “What it does is, it pulls the people of Iran together behind Ahmadinejad,” she said on the same program.

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