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. Europe, Washington play 'good cop, bad cop' with Iran
WASHINGTON (AFP) Nov 21, 2004
The United States has hardened its tone against Iran for its alleged efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, adopting a "bad cop" role against Europe's "good cop" line toward Tehran.

President George W. Bush, who was in Chile for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, sharply warned Iran Saturday about reports that the Islamic republic has accelerated production of uranium material that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

"It's very important for the Iranian government to hear that we are concerned about their desires, and we're concerned about reports that show that ... they're willing to speed up processing of materials that could lead to a nuclear weapon," Bush said.

On November 9, one week after his re-election to a second four-year term, Bush extended by one year financial sanctions imposed against Iran since 1979.

And Secretary of State Colin Powell stepped up Washington's accusations against Iran by saying this week he had seen information suggesting that Tehran is seeking to adapt its missiles to carry nuclear warheads.

His statement, however, was countered by two US officials who told The Washington Post that Powell's information was based on an "unvetted, single source."

Iran agreed a week ago in a deal with Britain, France and Germany to suspend as of Monday all its uranium enrichment activities as a confidence-building measure in order to avoid possible UN sanctions over US charges that it has a covert nuclear weapons program.

"I think my view would be that the incentives of the Europeans only work against the backdrop of the United States being strong and firm on this issue," Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Al-Jazeera television, according to a State Department transcript of the interview.

"In the vernacular, it's kind of a 'good cop, bad cop' arrangement," Armitage told the Qatar-based satellite network.

"If it works, we'll all have been successful. If it fails, we'll all fail."

Washington wants to address its concerns diplomatically rather than by military force, said Armitage, who like Powell are leaving Bush's cabinet.

"We always say no options are off the table. But war is obviously not an option that we want to consider if we can help it," he said. "We're not talking that way. We're talking about resolving this problem by diplomatic means."

The New York Times noted on Sunday that Bush has not given Iran a deadline on its alleged weapons program as he had done with Iraq before toppling Saddam Hussein's regime last year.

Plus, US troops are too busy in Iraq, making it "harder to be hawkish in this White House," the Times said in an analysis.

"We have rather more on our plate than we can handle with a nation of 25 million in Iraq," US conservative commentator George Will said on ABC television. "There are 69 million Iranians. That's a serious country."

The Los Angeles Times on Sunday called Powell's remarks an unfortunate "outburst."

"The United States, along with the rest of the UN Security Council, may yet have to back up the European diplomatic efforts. But Powell's outburst last week seemed suspiciously close to an effort to preemptively sabotage them," the daily wrote.

Meanwhile, prominent Republican Senator John McCain told NBC television: "I don't believe we are, quote, 'close' (to war with Iran) but we certainly should be very concerned, disturbed and even alarmed."

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