Thu, May 04, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Former US official Eihorn backs diplomatic method

NUCLEAR IMPASSE Robert Eihorn said that the Bush administration was approaching the Iranian problem incorrectly in a speech delivered in Taipei yesterday

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The key ingredient lacking in the current US administration's approach to the Iran nuclear enrichment impasse is a willingness to talk to the Iranian government. Only through dialogue could both sides determine how to repair relations, a former senior US official for non-proliferation said yesterday.

Speaking in Taipei, Robert Eihorn, former US assistant secretary of state for non-proliferation from 1999 to 2001, yesterday said "the key ingredient is our willingness to sit down with Iran and talk about the conditions under which we will be prepared to normalize relations with the regime currently in Tehran."

Eihorn is in Taiwan until Saturday on a five-day visit. He made the comments yesterday in a speech entitled "Can We Stop Nuclear Proliferation?" which was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies.

Eihorn is a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Regarding the US' attitude toward solving the nuclear issue, Eihorn said that the administration of US President George W. Bush should seek "engagement" before resorting to tougher action with countries such as Iran and North Korea.

He said he disagreed with the Bush administration's view that regime change in North Korea and Iran was the preferable solution to stymie the nuclear ambitions of the two "rogue states."

"I think they [factions within the Bush administration] are fooling themselves," Eihorn said.

He said the Bush administration was not offering enough carrots to Iran and acting tough with the Iranian government would only exacerbate the feud as Tehran was unafraid of Western sanctions due to growing global demand for oil and soaring oil prices.

He said that in engaging with the Iranian regime, it should not only offer the carrot, but also strengthen the stick and obtain the support of the Russian and Chinese governments.

"Military means may be necessary for undeterrable groups. But military action can only be considered when diplomatic means have been exhausted," Eihorn said.

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