OpinionIran in the World PressBritain reaches limits of diplomacy with Iran

Britain reaches limits of diplomacy with Iran

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Daily Telegraph: Considering that eight British soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq this summer, the Government’s reaction was bizarre. Instead of the Prime Minister or a member of his Cabinet standing up and pointing the finger of blame, it was
left initially to an unnamed senior official. Daily Telegraph

Considering that eight British soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq this summer, the Government’s reaction was bizarre. Instead of the Prime Minister or a member of his Cabinet standing up and pointing the finger of blame, it was left initially to an unnamed senior official.

On Wednesday, he accused Iran of supplying technology to those who have attacked British patrols in southern Iraq with roadside bombs over the past six months. The devices, employing an infra-red beam and an armour-penetrating ball, were developed in Lebanon by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hizbollah. It was only yesterday that Tony Blair broke the cover of anonymity.

At a press conference in London with the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, he said the trail of the new weapons led either to Iran or its Lebanese protégé. However, he added that this had yet to be proved.

The Government’s tentative approach to confronting Iran reflects its hopes and fears. It had hoped that “constructive engagement” with Teheran, conducted through the European Union troika of Britain, France and Germany, could persuade it to abandon its nuclear weapons programme. And it has long, and justifiably, feared that Iran and its Iraqi allies could make life impossible for the thinly spread British forces based in Basra.

EU mediation has run into the sands and the Iranians have been declared non-compliant with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by its watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. And now the Government, in a way still more hesitant than that of the Americans, has decided to warn Iran to lay off coalition forces operating under a United Nations mandate in Iraq.

Relations between Teheran and the West are breaking down. The election in June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad strengthened the hand of the hardliners. The man he beat, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, has suggested that Iran is “sleepwalking towards war”. Yesterday, George W. Bush accused Iran and Syria of sponsoring terrorism and claimed they were as guilty of murder as the actual perpetrators. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said last week that military action against Iran was inconceivable. Maybe, but he has yet to show that diplomacy is an effective alternative.

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