Rice Says U.S. Won´t Aid Europe on Plans for Incentives to Iran (NY TIMES) By STEVEN R. WEISMAN, ELAINE SCIOLINO and DAVID E. SANGER London, England 02/04/05)
NEW YORK TIMES
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LONDON, Feb. 3 - Less than a day after President Bush declared he
was "working with European allies" to persuade Iran to give up its
nuclear program, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United
States would continue to rebuff European requests to participate
directly in offering incentives for Iran to drop what is suspected of
being a nuclear arms program.
Opening her first overseas trip as secretary, Ms. Rice also declared
that the Tehran government´s record on human rights was "something to
be loathed" - a harsh comment that comes at a time when many European
leaders have asked the United States to help lower tensions with Iran.
"I don´t think anybody thinks that the unelected mullahs who run that
regime are a good thing for the Iranian people or for the region,"
Ms. Rice said to reporters on her plane to London. "I think our
European allies agree that the Iranian regime´s human rights behavior
and its behavior toward its own population is something to be
Ms. Rice made her remarks as the Iranians, the Europeans and many in
Washington were dissecting Mr. Bush´s comments about Iran - and far
gentler words about Saudi Arabia and Egypt - in his State of the
Union address on Wednesday night. In the address, Mr. Bush seemed to
invite the people of Iran to liberate themselves from their clerical
rulers, for the first time matching a specific nation to his
Inauguration Day call for an end to tyranny around the world.
But he also sounded willing to support the Europeans in their
initiative to negotiate an end to a key part of Iran´s nuclear
"Today, Iran remains the world´s primary state sponsor of terror,
pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom
they seek and deserve," Mr. Bush said. "We are working with European
allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its
uranium enrichment program and any plutonium reprocessing, and end
its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As
you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."
But he made no effort to urge the people of Egypt or Saudi Arabia to
challenge their governments, even though both countries have turned
aside Mr. Bush´s past calls that they allow democratic forces to
determine who will rule their governments. "The government of Saudi
Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the
role of its people in determining their future," he said in the
speech, and Egypt "can now show the way toward democracy in the
In Washington on Thursday night, a senior administration official
said the reason for the difference was simple. "We do not have
relations with the government of Iran, and it is not a government
moving in the direction of giving its people greater participation in
their affairs," the official said. "If anything, they have cracked
down on the opposition."
But the official argued that "Egypt and Saudi Arabia are a contrast
with Iran, because we do have good relations with those governments,
and while they are not perfect they are nonetheless making steps
toward greater participation."
The official, who was involved in the decisions leading up to the
address, said Mr. Bush "wanted to answer the question asked after his
inaugural: What do you do with countries that are allies in the war
on terror but need to do more?"
In Iran on Thursday, the country´s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, predicted that Mr. Bush, like every other American
president since Iran´s 1979 revolution, would fail to overthrow the
"Bush is the fifth U.S. president who wants to destroy the Islamic
republic," the ayatollah told university students. "But he will fail
as did Jimmy Carter, Reagan, Bush senior and Clinton." Branding the
United States "one of the heads of the dragon of world oppression,"
he charged that Mr. Bush had been installed in the White House
by "Zionist and non-Zionist companies and capitalists to serve their
Mohammad Sadegh Kharazi, Iran´s ambassador to Paris, said in an
interview on Thursday that Iran should be rewarded, not punished, by
the United States for supporting the democratic electoral process in
Iraq. "We were the only country in the region to fully support
elections in Iraq," Mr. Kharazi said. "And in return we get President
Bush´s negative body language. America just doesn´t want to
understand our reality. Is it fair? No."
Iran has also made clear, at least in its public statements, that it
has no intention of trying to export an Islamic republic to Iraq.
The questions about America´s stance toward Iran coincide with fresh
evidence that Iran may be violating the spirit, if not the exact
terms, of its Nov. 15 agreement with France, Germany and Britain to
temporarily freeze its program to enrich uranium. Enriched uranium
can be used to produce energy or, at high enrichment levels, as fuel
for nuclear weapons.
Last month, new negotiations began that could give Iran generous
rewards on nuclear energy, trade and economic, political and security
cooperation if it provides firm guarantees that it is not developing
a nuclear weapon.
But the three European countries have uncovered evidence that Iran is
doing maintenance work on centrifuge piping at an enrichment plant at
Natanz in southern Iran, according to a British official.
The issue is regarded as serious enough that John Sawers, the senior
British Foreign Office official involved in the negotiations,
protested in meetings in Tehran on Wednesday with Iran´s senior
nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, and Foreign Minister Kamal
Kharrazi, a British official said.
The United States also has formally complained to the European
negotiators about the issue, in a Jan. 28 letter from John Bolton,
the under secretary of state for arms control and international
security, the British official said. "We are taking this issue
extremely seriously," the official said. "We are reminding Iran of
But it is not at all clear that the Iranian action actually violates
"It´s a bad sign that the first time Iran is supposed to do what it
agreed to that it looks as if it is trying to get away with
something," said David Albright, president of the Institute for
Science and International Security, a nonpartisan arms control group
in Washington. "This is something that makes everyone nervous."
Each revelation about Iran´s nuclear program, however mild, is likely
to make the Bush administration more hesitant to embrace the European
view that the way to curb Iran´s nuclear program is with engagement,
Mr. Bush has harshly criticized Iran´s clerical rulers and, in the
past, even suggested that he favored a change of government. In
linking Iran with North Korea and Iraq as an "axis of evil" in his
State of the Union address three years ago, he charged that
Iran "aggressively pursues" weapons of mass destruction and exports
terror "while an unelected few repress the Iranian people´s hope for
But the administration has left its policy on regime change
deliberately ambiguous. While a former deputy secretary of state,
Richard L. Armitage, had once said the administration did not favor
regime change in Iran, Ms. Rice said on Thursday that "what we
support is that the Iranian people should have a chance to determine
their own future." She said she hoped her trip would send "a very
clear message" that Europe and the United States were united in their
But in tone and substance, her comments suggested that a wide rift
remained; Europeans continue to complain that the Bush administration
was overly confrontational. Some Europeans fear that the American
approach could lead to eventual attacks on areas suspected of being
Iranian nuclear sites. The foreign ministers of several European
nations have recently begun to warn that without American
participation in an incentive package for Iran, their efforts could
"There has to be a sense that there will be a U.S. buy-in to the
solution," John Bruton, the European Union´s representative to the
United States, told reporters earlier this week, adding that the
administration was "not engaged in the way we would like."
But Ms. Rice said Thursday: "It´s not the absence of anybody´s
involvement that is keeping the Iranians from knowing what they need
to do. They need to live up to their obligations."
Steven R. Weisman reported from London for this article, Elaine
Sciolino from Paris and David E. Sanger from Washington. (Copyright
2005 The New York Times Company 02/04/05)
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