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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More