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Can "super-soft" Europe make the difference?

Posted by Richard Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Washington Post and many other newspapers, have Bush and Schröder now agreeing on Iran, jointly declaring that the United States and Europe are united in their opposition to Iranian development of nuclear weapons.

That was during a press conference in Mainz, Germany, after a meeting on the fourth day of Bush's trip to Europe. Said Bush, "It's vital that the Iranians hear the world speak with one voice that they shouldn't have a nuclear weapon."

However, from Tehran, that world looks very different. There, it is being said that the capabilities and maturity of the European Union has been put to the test in the international arena by the nuclear issue and the main reason behind the US pressure is to undermine European independence.

According to the Mehr news agency in Tehran, that is the view of Hasan Rowhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, the country’s chief nuclear negotiator.

He goes on to state that Al-Qa'idah is the brainchild of the United States and that the activity of the terrorist network is the main pretext for the US “meddling” in the affairs of the Islamic world.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials are reported as reiterating their denials of any plans to produce nuclear weapons, still insisting that Iran has the right to pursue nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment.

The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency also reported president Mohammad Khatami as saying that "the Europeans would suffer more than Iran" if they succumbed to US pressures and took action against his country.

With such an extreme divergence of views, it is hard to see how any diplomatic solution can be reached. Can anyone really believe that Europe's "super-soft" power is going to make the difference?