Ahmadinejad Extremist Comments Seen In Iran As Eliciting Sanctions: Analyst
Extremist comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are seen by some in Iran as increasing Western pressure for sanctions against Iran, according to Barbara Slavin, senior diplomatic reporter with USA Today. She also is affiliated with the U.S. Institute for Peace, a congressionally created, publicly funded think tank.
Ahmadinejad was quoted widely in media around the world as saying that Israel should be wiped from the map.
That sparked alarm in some Western quarters, because Iran is developing steadily longer-range missiles, and also is producing nuclear materials that it says are for peaceful electrical generation purposes but which some Westerners fear may be used to build nuclear weapons.
Slavin spoke at the Center for American Progress think tank in Washington, D.C., in a forum moderated by Joseph Cirincione, senior fellow and director for nuclear policy at the center.
But another forum participant said Ahmadinejad was misquoted. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and an author writing on Iranian-U.S. relations, said Ahmadinejad didn’t use the words "wipe Israel from the map."
Slavin said Iran, isolated by sanctions the west imposed because of Iranian nuclear materials production programs, is in a similar relationship with the United States to the relationship that the old Soviet Union had in the Cold War days.
Rather than giving Iran the silent treatment, Slavin recommended treating Iran as the Soviet Union was treated, with the United States establishing diplomatic relations with Tehran.
Parsi said, it would "be very helpful to have a dialogue" between the United States and Iran.
Slavin also argued that if there is an enemy of the United States at work, it isn’t Iran generally but rather Sunni Muslim terrorists working within Iran.
The United States has proposed extending its Ground-based Midcourse missile Defense (GMD) system to Europe, where an advanced-capability radar in the Czech Republic and intereceptors in silos in Poland would guard against enemy missiles launched from Iran or other Middle Eastern nations toward Europe.
However, Congress has placed a hold on spending funds for construction of the European GMD system until both the Czech Republic and Poland agree to host it, and the Pentagon provides certification that GMD works to kill enemy missiles.
To view the entire forum, please go to http://www.americanprogress.org/events/2007/12/iran.html on the Web and click on Events.