The E.U. Iran Policy: A Multilateral Approach
As 2004 came to an end the world had a lot of news stories to pay attention to. Bush's second term, Arafat's passing and the electoral crisis in the Ukraine all dominated our T.V. screens and newspapers. In the middle of all this something else occurred that was equally significant. Three European countries, Germany, France and Britain, acting together and ignoring the U.S., managed to make a deal with Iran on its uranium processing programme.
The issue of Iran and its possible intention to develop nuclear weapons had built momentum through the year. By the start of last year, when American Congressional members visited Tehran, it seemed that a thaw in U.S.-Iran relations was possible. The U.S. knows that Iranian support would make its tasks in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East easier, while the Iranian government could use the popularity at home that American investment would generate. But as the year moved on revelations that Iran had been deceiving the rest of the world about its nuclear experiments put an end to any hope of U.S.-Iran rapprochement.
Are the Iranians planning to develop a nuclear bomb? The Americans certainly think so and Iran has every motive to do so. Israel has nuclear weapons and has no intention of signing the non-proliferation treaty. Both the U.S. and the U.K. appear to be contemplating restarting nuclear weapons programmes and Iran is surrounded by American military bases. Having nuclear weapons would put Iran in a much securer position.
To make matters more complicated, the IAEA, the organisation that is supposed to halt proliferation, is in fact aiding it. This is due to a belief that countries can benefit from developing nuclear power without developing nuclear weapons. The scientific evidence used to prove that Iran was building the bomb in 2004 is very shaky. Enriching uranium and producing heavy water could be used to build weapons. These processes could also be used to develop nuclear power generators.
By the summer of 2004, we were faced with a situation similar to that of two years before. The attempts of the U.S. to create pressures for action against Iran were more than reminiscent of the build up to the invasion of Iraq and the issue of Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction. Behind the intelligence reports are neo-conservative Americans with one aim in mind: regime change.
With its troops tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. ① is in no position to send in ground troops to vent its frustration with Tehran. During the summer, they hinted, instead, that they would use Special Forces and air strikes to target the offending facilities. Interestingly, the U.K. did not follow their American allies on this one, choosing instead to ②side with the 'old' European countries of Germany and France. Their talks with the Iranians looked like they had ended in failure by the end of the summer with both sides accusing the other of bad faith.