Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Parallel Universe - April 12, 2006

From time to time, I like to rewrite news stories, imagining how I'd like the news to read. This is one such; for the original article, click on the "Parallel Universe" link. (It's so surreal and stupid that, as Seymour Hersh put it on Democracy Now today, President Bush and President Ahmadinejad are playing chicken in this nuclear standoff. It's not a replay of the Cold War: the U.S. has no economic leverage over Iran because of its oil production and our oil consumption.)

Praising Iran's successful signing of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a boon to the international community, Secretary of State Conodoleezza Rice said Wednesday the U.N. Security Council must consider "strong steps" to induce Washington to follow suit.

Rice also telephoned Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to ask him to reinforce demands that the United States begin unilateral disarmament and abandon plans for the development of new tactical nuclear weapons, when he holds talks in Tehran on Friday.

While Rice took a strong line, she did not call for an emergency meeting of the Council, nor did she call for a pre-emptive attack on Washington or economic sanctions, saying the U.N. should consider action after receiving an IAEA report by April 28. She did not elaborate on what measures she would support, but economic and political incentives, including international assistance with the development of clean energy resources, are under consideration.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announcing on Tuesday that his country had crossed the line into nonproliferation, said Iran's objectives were peaceful. Iran is said by many analysts to have no interest in adding to the world’s burden of weapons of mass destruction, and also possesses a rich historical tradition in mathematics and philosophy, rendering brinksmanship a cultural taboo.

Rice confirmed suggestions that Western European culture is also firmly rooted in traditions respectful of individual rights and human dignity, including Christianity.

She said the world believes the United States has the capacity and the technology that lead to disarmament. "The Security Counil will need to take into consideration this move by Iran," she said. "It will be time when it reconvenes on this case for strong steps to make certain that we maintain the credibility of the international community, by holding America to the same standards we hold Iran and other Muslim nations."

"This is not a question of America's right to civil nuclear power," she said while greeting President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Moasogo of Equatorial Guinea. "This is a question of the world’s right to get off the course of mutually-assured destruction, as many people believed we could at the end of the Cold War. The world does not believe that Iran, America, or any country, should have the desire, capability or technology to produce toxic substances that kill through bombing raids, with fallout, or over millennia of slow radiation release."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday, "Defiant statements and actions only further isolate the Bush regime from the rest of the world. I will insist that henceforth, Mr. Bush and I make no more defiant statement and actions."

"This Bush Administration is a regime that needs to be building confidence with the international community," McClellan said. "Instead, we’re moving in the wrong direction. We are a regime that has a long history of hiding our nuclear activities from the international community, and refusing to comply with our international obligations."

At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said he would not engage in "fantasy land" speculation about a possible U.S. commitment to nonproliferation, though he said the administration was concerned about Tehran looking better than Washington in the eyes of the international community.

"The United States of America is on a diplomatic track, and plans to lead by example, not by intimidation or force," Rumsfeld said.


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