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

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs