Saturday, April 7, 2007

US increases pressure on Iran

John Bolton's remarks are typical of him. It is his type of thinking that has brought the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costing billions not to mention the lives lost. If Bolton or the view of some US naval officers had prevailed all fifteen would probably be dead and no doubt many Iranians with who knows what results.
The way events are going it would not be surprising if there is an eventual US attack on Iran.


US revs up pressure on Iran after release of Britons
Published: Friday April 6, 2007



The United States Thursday shrugged off Iran's release of 15 captured British sailors and warned it faced tougher sanctions if it does not bow to UN demands to halt its uranium enrichment operations.

Refusing to accept the idea that the return of the Britons 12 days after they were seized showed Tehran's readiness to engage the international community, the White House reminded Tehran of the UN Security Council's demands on its nuclear program.

"I would view the detention of the British sailors as not in line with their willingness to work with the international community," the White House national security council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, referring to Iran's leaders.

"What would show that they are more in line with the international community is to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions, and suspend their uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities," said Johndroe.

"We'd be hopeful to not have to go back to the UN Security Council for an additional sanction regime," the spokesman said.

And US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack accused Iran of using "hostage-taking as a tool of its international diplomacy."

For its part Tehran Thursday declared its refusal to bow to pressure on its nuclear program, which it says is for power generation but major Western powers believe is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Shortly after Johndroe's remarks, Iranian state television reported that Iran's nuclear chief Ali Larijani told the European Union there was no chance that Tehran would suspend uranium enrichment.

The exchange marked the resumption of more strident rhetoric after the 12-day crisis over the British sailors and marines, who Iran captured in or near Iranian waters on March 23 March.

Tehran declared the 14 men and one woman had illegally moved into Iranian waters, but Britain maintains they were seized in Iraqi waters where they were carrying out anti-smuggling oprations under UN resolutions.

The United States, which does not maintain direct relations with Iran, on Thursday welcomed their release, but tellingly praised London, not Tehran, for the peaceful end of the tense standoff.

US President George W. Bush, on his Texas ranch for a long Easter weekend, spoke for about an hour by secure video with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Johndroe told reporters.

"The president welcomed the safe return of the British personnel who had been detained in Iran. He also commended the British on their resolve in bringing the situation to a peaceful resolution," he said.

McCormack confirmed that Washington had toned down its rhetoric throughout the standoff, though on Saturday Bush referred to the Britons as "hostages" who had been seized in Iraqi waters.

"In the context of an ongoing hostage crisis, of course we are not going to say anything that could make the situation worse or make it more difficult to realize a peaceful solution," McCormack said. "Absolutely, we're going to tailor our rhetoric."

At the same time, McCormack hinted at possible face-to-face talks between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on the sidelines of an international conference on Iraq in early May.

"We have said from the beginning, when this first surfaced, that if there would be a ministerial conference, that we are not going to exclude any particular diplomatic interaction," he said.

McCormack emphasized the possible bilateral meeting would focus on Iraq exclusively, and not address the Iranian nuclear program. US officials denied any link to the Britons' release.

On another front, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that US officials were not inclined to release five Iranians captured in Iraq, and accused Iran of supporting Iraqi insurgents.

"I think there's no inclination right now to let them go," Gates told reporters, rejecting speculation that the United States was preparing to release the group or allow consular access to them as part of a deal involving Iran's release of the British captives.

Meanwhile controversial former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton described the hostage standoff as a "double victory" for Tehran.

Iran "won a victory when they captured the hostages and they won a victory when they released the hostages" Bolton said on the US-funded Alhurra Arabic-language television network.

"I think they were testing British resolve in response to this provocative act and I think they already had their answer, which was that the British are not going to respond in a strong fashion," he said.



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