News / Europe

Gates Europe Trip Takes on Middle Eastern Focus

Al Pessin

The United States announced Wednesday it is freezing the assets of a senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Rostam Qasemi, and four corporations it says are involved in spreading weapons of mass destruction.  The moves further tighten U.S. government efforts to pressure Iran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program, and come as the United States is working to convince the United Nations Security Council to impose broader sanctions.  The announcement also comes the day after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates returned from six days in Europe, focused largely on the Iran issue.

The Pentagon press secretary said the trip was intended in large part to nurture relationships with allies - relations that have lacked for attention with so much effort focused on Afghanistan.  But much of the time was spent discussing Iran, particularly after Sunday, when Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad ordered the resumption of uranium enrichment.

"No one has tried more sincerely to reach out and engage with the government of Iran than President Obama," said Robert Gates. "The results have been very disappointing."

Enrichment is a key step in the production of nuclear weapons and a direct slap at the international community's effort to convince President Ahmedinejad to send Iran's uranium abroad for enrichment.  The international plan is designed to control the quantity and quality of the uranium to ensure it is only used only for peaceful purposes.

With the announcement from Tehran drawing everyone's attention, Gates promoted the idea of shifting the focus of the effort on Iran from the patient pursuit of dialogue to what he said the international community has been holding in reserve.

"The only path that is left to us at this point, it seems to me, is that pressure track," he said.  "But it will require all of the international community to work together.  The point of the pressure is to bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table and to resolve this issue in a way that prevents Iran from having a nuclear weapon."

And Gates got some support for that in Rome and Paris, including this comment from French Defense Minister Herve Morin.

Minister Morin said everyone believes it will be necessary, unfortunately, to begin discussing new sanctions if Iran refuses to stop its nuclear weapons program.

Turkey was the only stop where Secretary Gates did not appear at a joint media event with his hosts to receive an endorsement of the move toward sanctions.  That appeared to be part of an effort to keep open a pathway for dialogue with Iran, which he said Turkey is uniquely positioned to facilitate.

"Turkey is a valuable interlocutor when it comes to Iran," said Gates. "And I think it's important.  They are able to speak to the Iranians in a way that is difficult for us.  And so I think there are potential opportunities there."

Still, American officials traveling with the secretary said the United States wants the U.N. Security Council to move this month to impose sanctions focusing on Iran's government and having the least impact possible on the Iranian people.  That would follow the pattern set by Wednesday's announcement in Washington, which targets one senior Revolutionary Guard Corps commander (Gen. Rostam Qasemi) and four companies that the U.S. Treasury Department says control broad sectors of Iran's economy, freezing out private businesses and using their profits to support terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

A Russian statement Wednesday said the move toward sanctions "gains additional relevance" with the resumption of uranium enrichment.  But China has been reluctant to agree, and that may delay the process.

Secretary Gates set out on this trip to discuss a wide range of bi-lateral issues at each of his stops.  Officials say he did that, but the urgency of the Iran issue overshadowed any talk of military exchanges, equipment sales and even the NATO effort in Afghanistan.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs