What Does The U.S. Want From Turkey Concerning The Iran Issue?

BY MURAT YETKIN

RADIKAL- Gregory Schulte, the US Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, was in Ankara yesterday to hold meetings with officials from the Foreign Ministry and the General Staff about Iran's nuclear program. US Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson brought together a group of reporters and Schulte at his home, where we could get answers to some of our questions. I'd better summarize the course of this meeting so that I can tell you better why we couldn't get an answer to all questions. According to the information provided by Schulte, the US' stance about Iran's nuclear program is as follows:

The US believes that Iran doesn't have the capacity to produce nuclear weapons yet, but that it's efforts are directed towards producing nuclear weapons in order to threat many countries in the region, mostly Israel,

The US is concerned that if Iran owns nuclear weapons, a competition of nuclear armament will begin,

So it suggests a double strategy about Iran, which is based on diplomacy and sanctions. The US expects these efforts to change the leadership of Islamic regime in Iran and ensure the continuation of negotiations with the UN,

Schulte said that we should understand what the Iranian administration wants and added that for example, if it seeks international intelligence, security or new technologies, we should tell Iran that these can be provided in the best way not by confliction, but cooperation.

This is how it works in Turkey, because Turkey has economic cooperation with Iran, mostly in the area of natural gas. Schulte implied that the Iranian administration used these to show the entire world that it's not alone in the international arena and that everything is fine and thus it's not a good time to make cooperation with Iran. Likewise, Wilson, who is one of the actors of latest operations against Iraq, criticizes the thinking that Iran is making cooperation with Turkey in its fight against the terrorist PKK, implying that nobody should compare these two areas of cooperation.

Schulte said that at this point, Turkey has an important role to play, because it's a NATO member and a country neighboring Iran. As the US indicated, Turkey has already been conducting a diplomacy based on convincing Iran. Similarly, Schulte said that the US can take what it needs from Turkey this way or the other, but that Turkey should send a message to Iran, which is common with other countries.

By the way, the question which remained unanswered is as follows: It's not enough to be a bordering neighbor to conduct diplomacy and deliver messages, so do the US' expectations have operational characteristics and what is expected from Turkey, in addition to its current diplomacy efforts? At this point, Schulte said, 'We're talking with Turkey about ways of responding security considerations and I can't give a more detailed answer to this question.

So was the Iranian issue discussed during the US Deputy President Dick Cheney's visit to Ankara last month with its dimensions of operation? After hearing this question, Wilson said that he was present in those meetings, during which mostly the Iranian issue was discussed, but the issue of operation through Turkey wasn't opened up. Then Schulte added that he wants no war.

Asked whether the US will change its policy on Iran under the leadership of Democrats, Schulte gave an evasive answer, saying, 'I'm a diplomat, not a politician.' But Robert Einhorn, former assistant secretary of state and currently an advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Hilary Clinton, has told us before that he could take the White House's stance on Iran to a more realistic line.

Of course, the US' pressure about Iran on the Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration, which has been dealing with problems caused by the closure case against it, and its pressure on then government in the beginning of 2002 about Iran don't share the same conditions. But it's also striking that expectations about the Iranian issue from the AKP, whose searches for an international support against the closure case isn't a secret, has increased these days.

Copyright © 2008