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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs