Iran turns US nuclear high ground into tricky terrain
By Tony Karon
The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was clearly unsettled by the news that the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, plans to show up in New York on Monday at the UN’s Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
As far as the US is concerned, Iran is a pariah in the international conversation about proliferation, and halting its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons is one of Washington’s key objectives at the New York conference.
Israel won’t be the only example of western double standards cited by critics. Shortly before it left office, the Bush administration concluded a massive nuclear-energy deal that encouraged India to import technologies that others are being discouraged from adopting, despite New Delhi’s continued refusal to sign the NPT.
While US officials like to paint a picture of the international community united against Iran and ready for sanctions, besides Washington and its closest allies, most countries believe that dialogue, rather than coercion, is the way to solve the issue, and are looking to broker a compromise rather than line up to endorse new sanctions.
So the New York conference could, in fact, prove to be tricky terrain for the Obama administration, because if Mr Ahmadinejad is able to paint its efforts to restrain Iran’s nuclear programme as based on setting different rules for different countries, it’s the US which, to use Mrs Clinton’s phrase, will not get a very sympathetic hearing.