Iran warned the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council this week that no amount of pressure would persuade it to abandon its nuclear program. And, in Washington, President Bush reiterated that all options remain on the table, but he wants to resolve the matter diplomatically.
Nathan Guttman, Washington correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, said that President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s recent announcement that Iran has developed enriched uranium for its nuclear program came as no great surprise to Israeli intelligence. Speaking with host Judith Latham of VOA News Now’s International Press Club, Mr. Guttman said it is gratifying for Israelis to see that the whole world is now aware of the Iranian threat. He explained that Israel is currently pushing for a diplomatic solution rather than for military action – at least for the next six months.
Nathan Guttman noted that President Ahmadinejad’s intemperate remarks about wiping Israel off the map have alarmed many Israelis. And last weekend Mr. Ahmadinejad stirred up more controversy when he met with the Palestinian leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, and promised $50 million from Iran to counter the cutoff in financial aid to the Palestinian Authority from the United States and other Western countries.
But Iranians see the matter differently. Iranian journalist Ali-Reza Norizadeh, who spoke with VOA from London, said Tehran has deliberately distorted U.S. and Western intentions toward Iran and its people. The Iranian regime has had some success in convincing Iranian public opinion that by calling for a halt to uranium enrichment, the West seeks to deprive Iran of technological advancement. Mr. Nourizadeh said talk of a possible U.S. military strike against Iran worries many Iranians, as it does many Westerners.
At the same time, the nuclear threat posed by Iran worries many people in the Arab world. Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy said she agrees with a Kuwaiti commentator who suggested that the Arab part of the Gulf region finds itself “stuck between Iran on one side and the United States on the other.”
In addition, Ms. Eltahawy noted that sectarian tensions complicate the matter and, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak remarked recently, members of the Shi’a community in Iraq may identify more with their co-religionists in Iran than they do with the Sunni population in their own country. Mona Eltahawy pointed out that the Sunni-majority Arab states are worried about Iranian hegemony in the region. She says to deter Iran, Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt might try to develop their own nuclear capacity.
Although some U.S. Senators and regional analysts are calling for direct talks with Iran, the Bush administration prefers to deal with Iran’s nuclear issue within the context of the U.N. Security Council. It will take up the issue when the International Atomic Energy Agency presents its report on April 28.
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