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IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei’s has been by far the sanest voice in the latest multi-national flare-up regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.

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Published: Tue 18 Sep 2007, 9:02 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:05 AM

His call for calm, warning against hyping the crisis and clearly implying that Iran poses no “clear and present danger” helped calm sentiments after the French foreign minister threatened war in disguised words, provoking the expected Teheran response.

Interestingly, France’s ‘hyperactive’ President Nicolas Sarkozy, making visible efforts to come across as a man of action, is leaving little of prominence on the world stage untouched, implying a return to significance of France of sorts. But in appearing on-the-front-foot all the time, he also betrays political immaturity, ignoring one of the most tested rules of politics that nothing of value comes at once, especially where matters of diplomacy are involved. Already he has started drawing criticism from within the EU for his comments on the economic downturn in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis.

However, it is important for Iran to realise also that in responding with equal (if not more) venom, it plays right into the West’s hands, which will use that aggression as justification for its fears.

It is important to note that in trying to appear on the right side of the US, Paris has bolstered a false image that has been bought and sold by the West’s media spin with good effect. The debate regarding Iran’s nuclear programme conveniently misses the point that Teheran is still not in violation of the NPT, and, for all practical purposes, can defend its case of ‘nuclear power for energy needs’ in a court of law. Yet Western political interests leveraging a very powerful media base seem to have the upper hand.

ElBaradei has also done well to remind the international community of false intelligence reports and nuclear fears that preceded the botched Iraqi invasion. Unbelievingly, prominent Western players don’t feel the slightest ridicule in wanting to stage a repeat performance.

The ugliness of military initiatives in Afganistan, Iraq and Somalia that the powerful protagonists of the war-against-terror have undertaken is proof enough that the new century can only feature diplomatic means to settle disputes. In appearing a strong leader in the new era, the French leader should bear this fact in mind.

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