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Hans Blix
Photo: Reuters
'Their own pride, like it or not'
Photo: AFP
West 'humiliating' Iran, says Hans Blix
Former UN weapons inspector slams US and Europe over 'humiliating neo-colonial' attitude to Iran. 'People have their own pride whether you like them or don't,' he adds, urging use of economic incentives for better diplomacy

Former chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said Monday the United States, Europe and the UN Security Council are ''humiliating'' Iran by demanding that it suspend uranium enrichment before any negotiations and then dictating its rewards.

 

He said the package of economic and political incentives put forward in June 2006 by the US and key European countries, which was later endorsed by the council, did not mention the key issue of security guarantees for Iran or adequately address the possibility of US diplomatic recognition if Tehran renounces enrichment.

 

''The first incentive, I think, is to sit down with them in a direct talk rather than saying to them 'you do this, thereafter we will sit down at a table and tell you what you get for it,''' Blix said. ''That's getting away from a humiliating neo-colonial attitude to a more normal (one).''

 

''People have their own pride whether you like them or don't,'' he told a media briefing ahead of a daylong conference on ''Weapons Threats and International Security'' organized by The Century Foundation, a Washington-based research institute on domestic and international challenges.

 

By contrast, Blix said the six-party negotiations on North Korea's nuclear program in Beijing have focused on negotiations and recently addressed the country's security concerns and issues of the country's status and diplomatic relations with the United States - ''regrettably far too late.

 

''It could have been done much earlier. Years have been lost and plutonium has been gained in (North) Korea,'' Blix said, noting the country's nuclear test in October.

 

More carrots needed

In the case of Iran, however, Blix said, the international community has taken a completely different approach to negotiations.

 

Initially, the Europeans put a lot of carrots on the table without much American support. Gradually, there was more US backing including support for Iran's entry into the World Trade Organization, for spare parts for US-made aircraft, and facilitating investment if it gives up enrichment, he said.

 

''But we haven't heard anything about offers concerning guarantees for security in case they will go along with a renunciation of enrichment, nor much regarding recognition,'' Blix said.

 

''It's the US that can deliver assurances about security, and the US that can deliver recognition or normalization of relations,'' he said.

 

Blix criticized the demand first by the Europeans, then the US, and now by the Security Council, that first Iran must suspend enrichment and then there will be talks where ''they will explain what the Iranians will be given.''

 

''This is in a way like telling a child, first you will behave and thereafter you will be given your rewards,'' Blix said. ''And this, I think, is humiliating. The Iranians have resisted all the time saying, no, we are willing to talk, we are willing to talk about the suspension of enrichment, but we are not for suspension before the talks.''

 

''I would be surprised if a poker player would toss away his trump card before he sits down at the table. Who does that?'' he asked.

 

'Military threats are very dangerous'

Blix said he wants Iran to suspend its enrichment program ''but this is poor diplomacy - a poor way to try to achieve it.''

 

Blix led the US inspectors who searched for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the US-led invasion in 2003. Prior to that he headed the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. He now heads the Stockholm-based Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, which is sponsored by the Swedish government.

 

The IAEA reported last week that Iran had ignored Security Council demands to suspend enrichment and instead had expanded its enrichment program. Iran maintains that its program is purely aimed at the development of nuclear energy, but the Europeans and American believe its real goal is to produce nuclear weapons.

 

Blix said the economic sanctions which the Security Council imposed are useful.

 

''I don't think military threats are useful,'' he said. ''They will scare a number of people in Iran, yes. But at the same time, I think they are also very dangerous. A spark could fly, and they are very dangerous.''

Blix said the West should put itself in Iran's shoes, facing 140,000 American troops in Iraq, bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan which are major US allies, and the US talking to another Iranian neighbor, Azerbaijan.

 

''It's not absurd that they might feel a little worried about their security and that security guarantees from the US - in the same manner as in North Korea - could be useful,'' he said.

 

 

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