Word has it that the Europeans and Americans are falling out again, this time over Iran.
Despite a renewed American effort to repair relations with Europe, a disagreement between the Bush administration and European leaders over how best to persuade Iran to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program has deepened in recent weeks, diplomats on both sides say.
The diplomats said the disagreement focused on what Europeans maintained was the crucial next step in their drive to persuade Iran to move beyond its recently agreed upon voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment activities to the point of abandoning them outright.
The US are taking a hardline:
“The Europeans are barking up the wrong tree if they think the U.S. can bring the Iranians to the table to get an agreement on this,” said Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy and an Iran specialist.
“What is needed,” he said, “is for the entire international community – the Europeans, the Chinese, the Russians and the United States – to tell the Iranians to make a deal on this or face the consequences. Right now, what the Iranians say they want from the United States goes far beyond what the administration would be willing to offer.”
European diplomats, responding to these criticisms, said that while their deal with Iran was flawed, it represented the best hope for reaching an accord that would be accepted by the rest of the world, particularly Russia and China, two players with economic ties to Iran.
To get American involvement in the next phase of negotiations, European envoys said they told Iran that if it failed to comply with its agreement, they would join with the United States in referring the Iranian issue to the UN Security Council for possible further actions, including economic sanctions.
Iran air strikes in 2005 anyone?