U.S. Loses Its Edge in Nuclear Talks
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
The US is calling for the matter of Iran's nuclear program to be brought before the United Nations Security Council. Washington says Iran is in violation of its treaty commitments. North Korea, meantime, is ramping up its rhetoric about the nuclear issue. Today, the state news agency aired a commentary accusing the US of planning a nuclear attack. News analyst Daniel Schorr has been observing all the explosive rhetoric.
North Korea is believed to have six to eight nuclear bombs, or the makings for them. Iran has a nuclear development program that it insists is for peaceful energy purposes. And yet, the Bush administration appears to regard Iran as the greater menace. That may not be readily apparent on a day when the Pyongyang government accuses the United States of trying to `crush us to death.'
But disputes, like the current argument about whether North Korea gets a light-water reactor as part of a deal for dismantling its weapons program, have happened before, and as of now the six-party negotiations scheduled to resume in November appear to be still on.
Iran, too rich in oil to be starved out, acts as though it is engaged in an international holy war, acting out of motives more ideological than economic. Iran's new hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, delivered a fire-breathing speech to the United Nations General Assembly last Saturday, asserting Iran's right to pursue development of nuclear energy and accusing the United States of trying to divide the world into `light and dark countries.'
The Bush administration will try to repair the damage done to relations with North Korea after an angry dispute about the exact terms of the agreement announced in Beijing on Monday. Negotiations with Iran are off for the foreseeable future. And in the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna today, the United States pressed for action in the Security Council, although aware of the likelihood of a Russian or Chinese veto.
The greatest challenge for big-power diplomacy today is non-proliferation, keeping shut the door to the nuclear club. And having to deal simultaneously with North Korea and Iran--which sometimes seem to be playing off each other--doesn't make that task any easier. This is Daniel Schorr.
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