OpinionIran in the World PressA 'head case' in Teheran

A ‘head case’ in Teheran

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Daily Telegraph: The prospects for European Union mediation over Iran look ever grimmer as controversy over its president-elect mounts. Several Americans held hostage in the seizure
of the US embassy in Teheran in 1979 yesterday accused Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being one of the ringleaders. The White House said it was taking their claims very seriously.
Daily Telegraph

Opinion

1 July 2005

The prospects for European Union mediation over Iran look ever grimmer as controversy over its president-elect mounts. Several Americans held hostage in the seizure of the US embassy in Teheran in 1979 yesterday accused Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being one of the ringleaders. The White House said it was taking their claims very seriously.

The Administration has already dismissed the elections which unexpectedly brought Mr Ahmadinejad to power as having been rigged. Details of his past have since emerged, confirming him as a true foot-soldier of the Islamic Revolution. They include participation in a student organisation set up by a confidant of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the cleric who overthrew the Shah; membership of the Revolutionary Guards, the shock troops of the revolution; and building up the radical group Abadgaran, which won municipal elections in 2003 and parliamentary ones the year after. At his post-election press conference on Sunday, Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran would push ahead with its nuclear programme while continuing talks with the EU troika of Britain, France and Germany.

They are still preparing to present proposals to Teheran by the beginning of August which would offer political and economic inducements for suspension of uranium enrichment. Washington regards this mediation with scepticism, believing that Iran is determined to become a nuclear weapons power. Given the new controversy over the hostages, still a very sore point with Americans, and Washington’s threat to penalise companies or individuals doing business with the government agency that handles Iran’s nuclear programme, there seems little hope of compromise. The European mediators, including Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, are caught between a hawkish Administration and a proliferator whose president-elect has been graphically portrayed by a Foreign Office source as a “head case”.

Yet one should not feel sorry for the troika. They calculated that through negotiation they could strengthen the hand of moderates within the clerically dominated regime. From the 2000 parliamentary elections onward, they have seen reformers forced on to the retreat and then routed. They have lost their gamble. The focus of attention looks set to switch from mediation to consideration of sanctions by the UN Security Council. This promises to be a summer where the main antagonists are eyeball to eyeball.

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