The West has a new challenge. After Iraq, Iran now. While Teheran removes the seals of the nuclear facilities and gets ready to resume its uranium enrichment programme that could allow it to produce atomic weapons in some years, Europe and the United States must work on a common answer immediately. But, which one? If this crisis is wrongly handled, another military confrontation will break out and a new crisis will be unleashed in the West.
The European policy of negotiated containment, supported but not trusted by the United States and backed in an ambiguous way by Russia has failed. The European Union did not exert enough pressure and the United States hardly had incentives. In addition, in both sides of the Atlantic nobody had the means to make a thirsty-for-oil China and a rich-in-oil- Russia enter the game.
There’s no doubts that the half-insane Iranian President must have analyzed the cost-benefit situation as an invent of the great Satan and as a sign of western decline. However, there are much moderate minds in Iran. But even these ones must think that the risk is worthy. Nowadays, Iran has high incomes thanks to the rise in oil prices and has the United States in its a hand due to its situation in Iraq. China and Russia’s interests are different from those of the West; Germany and Italy will not break their fruitful trade relations with Teheran that easily. There are not many ways to pressure Iran and if they are used, the risk of consolidating a government that will present itself as a victim would be run. In case of direct attacks against nuclear facilities, the pro-western feeling will disappear.
Europe must take the threat seriously, western countries must exchange information about Iran and every step must be taken after having considered its implications for the Iranian government and society. I feel bad when I see a Frank Gaffney urging a revolution in Iran. It’s easy to risk others’ lives.

The Guardian (United Kingdom)

Let’s make sure we do better with Iran than we did with Iraq”, by Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, January 12, 2006.