European Press Review: Iran Under Pressure | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 17.06.2003
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European Press Review: Iran Under Pressure

On Tuesday editorial writers in Europe commented on the international pressure Iran is under to allow more stringent United Nations checks of its nuclear program and the student protests in the country's cities.


In Iran students protest the slow pace of reforms

Tehran is signaling it may decide positively on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s demand that it sign an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, London's Financial Times wrote. “Iran is responding to broad pressure, which may or may not work. But certainly it will not work if it gets mixed up with the ambitions of Bush administration hawks for regime change in Iran.”

The French daily Le Progres remarked that weapons of mass destruction had finally been found. But instead of being in Iraq, they were in Iran; the Pentagon had gotten one letter wrong, the paper mocked. Even Europe agrees that the danger arising from the Ayatollahs’ regime must be denounced, the Lyon daily stated. But it also pointed out that the Americans and the British cannot claim they were not involved in developments in Iran. By backing the oppressive regime of the Shah, the paper recalled, they helped pave the way for the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Commenting on the backing given by the United States to Iranian students demonstrating against the government, the Spanish daily La Vanguardia wrote that, by welcoming the demonstrations as a positive step on the way to freedom, Washington “has broken the unwritten rules of international diplomacy." That’s why it was not surprising that Iran has made an official protest over what it calls American interference in its internal affairs, the Barcelona paper said. The diplomatic quarrel has come at a bad time for Iran since the country was torn between religious fundamentalism and cautious reform efforts. The editorial concluded: “Iran is in danger of being further destabilized by international pressure.”

The British daily The Independent saw the situation differently: “There is a reason why the Iranian students are so pro-American: They see that U.S. support -- and perhaps intervention -- might be the only way of breaking the deadlock they find themselves in." The paper continued: “When they do achieve freedom of speech and travel, worryingly only Amnesty International and George Bush will be able to say that they backed their cause.”

In Rome, La Repubblica doubted that the protests would ultimately topple the regime. Though the 1979 revolution started in the universities, it only gained momentum when striking workers joined in the protests, the paper wrote. "Today it's unlikely that the bazaar and the universities will come together in a new and victorious alliance like 24 years ago." But the current protests are "an important test to understand correctly how things could develop in the exchange between the regime and a large part of the Iranian civil society after the Iraq war."