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Iran Won Sailors Battle With Britain Says Bolton

Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) April 09, 2007
Britain's "weakness" in standing up to Iran in the detained sailors stand-off handed Tehran an improbable victory and left it dangerously emboldened, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton said Monday.

Iran was deliberately probing for allied weaknesses and found them in abundance, Bolton wrote in a hard-hitting article in the Financial Times newspaper.

"Against all odds, Iran emerged with a win-win from the crisis: winning by its provocation in seizing the hostages in the first place and winning again by its unilateral decision to release them," wrote the 2005-2006 US ambassador to the United Nations.

The Guardian newspaper reported last week that the Washington wanted to get involved militarily in cranking up the pressure on Iran, but was rebuffed by London, which preferred to pursue diplomatic channels.

Some commentators here have said the United States should learn a lesson from Britain's handling of the detainees issue in respect to the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme.

The 15 British sailors, seized in the northern Gulf on March 23, returned home on Thursday.

But if the outcome of the stand-off with Iran was a success for British diplomacy, "one hesistates to ask what would constitute failure," Bolton wrote in the business daily.

He said Iran was testing allied resolve and found that Britain responded with "not much of a reaction at all."

"This passive, hesitant, almost acquiescent approach barely concealed the Foreign Office's real objective: keeping the faint hope alive that three years of failed negotiations on Iran's nuclear weapons programme would not suffer another, this time possibly fatal, setback."

The lesson for Iran was that "it probed and found weakness." Ahmadinejad could now "undertake equal or greater provocations, confident he need not fear a strong response," Bolton wrote.

"Emboldened as Iran now is, and ironically for engagement advocates, it is even less likely there will be a negotiated solution to the nuclear weapons issue, not that there was ever much chance of one.

"Iran, sensing weakness, has every incentive to ratchet up its nuclear weapons programme, increase its support to Hamas, Hezbollah and others and perpetrate even more serious terrorism in Iraq.

"The world will be a more dangerous place as a result.

"The only thing risen from this crisis is Iranian determination and resolve to confront us elsewhere, at their discretion, whether on Iraq, nuclear weapons and terrorism."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Iran Says Nuclear Drive Reaches Industrial Scale
Natanz, Iran (AFP) Apr 09, 2007
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Monday that Iran is now producing enriched uranium on an industrial scale, risking a deepening of the crisis with world powers over its nuclear drive. Although Ahmadinejad steered clear of disclosing any figures, his speech at Iran's most sensitive nuclear plant signaled that Tehran's atomic programme has stepped up a gear in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions.

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