Europe grows more uneasy with Iran
Could move closer to U.S. position on sanctions
December 24, 1996
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT)
From Correspondent Ralph Begleiter
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States and its European allies
may be moving toward separate turning points that could lead
to new confrontation with the government of Iran.
For the United States, it's the Khobar Towers military
housing bombing. For Germany, its the aftermath of a 1992
massacre of three Kurdish Iranian dissidents in a Berlin
restaurant. And for Israel and the United States, it's a
recent upsurge in new weapons supplies from Iran to southern
The FBI is now reviewing details of the Saudi investigation
of the Khobar Towers bombing, which killed 19 Americans. Iran
is suspected of supporting, if not planning, the bombing in
Washington accuses Iran's government of direct involvement in
about two dozen incidents of terrorism since 1990, and
indirect involvement through "surrogates" in many more
Iran rejects that contention.
"We have repeatedly denied any kind of involvement of the
Islamic Republic of Iran in the incident of Dhahran," said
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Valayati. "And once again,
we categorically deny any kind of involvement."
In Germany, an Iranian agent is on trial for masterminding
the Berlin murders. Germany has also indicted Iran's
U.S. CIA Director John Deutch said in testimony before the
U.S. Senate that the German action "reflects a growing
appreciation in Europe that Iran does not have good
intentions towards not only the United States, but the West
in general, western Europe in general."
Germany does maintain diplomatic ties with Iran, but
the strain of the Berlin indictment prompted Chancellor Kohl
and Iranian President Rafsanjani to exchange letters:
"The discussions with Iran have become tougher, a bit more
unpleasant," said Germany's ambassador to the United States,
Europeans have kept open a dialogue with Tehran, partly
because of Europe's dependence on Persian Gulf oil and
business with Iran. The Europeans think U.S. sanctions are
too harsh an approach, perhaps even pushing Iran's religious
leaders to support more terrorism.
But if Iran is held responsible for terrorism in Germany and
Saudi Arabia, the United States could be more successful in
launching not only a unilateral response, but an
international effort to punish the Tehran government.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
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