June 21, 2004
World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
BUZZFLASH NOTE: WMW provides BuzzFlash readers foreign views and perspectives that are not usually available from the media here in the U.S. The presentation of these articles from these international publications is not an endorsement of their viewpoints.
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WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR JUNE 21, 2004
Jordan Times, Jordan--EUROPEANS GET TOUGH ON
IRAN (The European Union has hardened its position
on Iran amid mounting frustration with the fruits
of its bid to "engage" the Islamic republic
on its nuclear programme, human rights and terrorism,
diplomats say. It was the European Union's "big
three" - Britain, France and Germany - who
on Friday pushed through a tough resolution at
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that
blasted Iran for failing to honour its pledge to
come clean. The EU heavyweights had brokered a
deal in October for Iran to cooperate with the
UN watchdog, but in a sign of growing impatience
have now edged closer to the position of the United
States - which stands by its accusation that Iran's
clerical rulers are seeking nuclear weapons and
not just electricity.)
News International, Pakistan--MUSHARRAF FEARS
FALLOUT OF WANA OPERATION (President Pervez
Musharraf is worried about retaliation for recent
security raids on tribal groups in the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), says a British
newspaper. In an interview published in the online
version of Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper,
Musharraf said he hoped that the fighting would
not escalate to other tribal areas. "But it
can have a fallout, these people have contacts
elsewhere in the country and they can retaliate
in the rest of the country in the form of bomb
blasts, attacks on important persons and installations,
and so we have to guard against that." Musharraf
also said he was worried about the rise of suicide
bombers in Pakistan.)
5//The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines--PLENARY SESSION SEEN AS NEXT BATTLEGROUND (To the dying sounds of opposition gunfire, the congressional canvassing committee wound down Sunday night the second longest vote count in the history of the country's presidential elections. Sniffing victory in the air, Malacañang was finalizing the inaugural program for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which is expected to be crowned by street parties in Cebu, the province that gave her a haymaker of a one-million-vote-plus margin over chief rival Fernando Poe Jr….Pro-administration legislators have repeatedly denied allegations of widespread cheating to favor Ms Macapagal and accused the opposition of engaging in dilatory tactics to delay her proclamation.)
* * *
Jordan Times, Jordan Monday, June 21, 2004
EUROPEANS GET TOUGH ON IRAN
TEHRAN (AFP) - The European Union has hardened its position on Iran amid mounting frustration with the fruits of its bid to "engage" the Islamic republic on its nuclear programme, human rights and terrorism, diplomats say.
It was the European Union's "big three" - Britain, France and Germany - who on Friday pushed through a tough resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that blasted Iran for failing to honour its pledge to come clean.
The EU heavyweights had brokered a deal in October for Iran to cooperate with the UN watchdog, but in a sign of growing impatience have now edged closer to the position of the United States - which stands by its accusation that Iran's clerical rulers are seeking nuclear weapons and not just electricity.
The resolution repeats a call by IAEA Director General Mohammad Al Baradei "that it is essential for the integrity and credibility of the inspection process to bring these issues to a close within the next few months."
And it "deplores... that Iran's cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been."
Iran has responded by toughening its stance, raising the threat of resuming uranium enrichment and accusing the Europeans of betrayal. On the human rights issue, relations are not going well either.
Diplomats also said the meeting here - the first since the effective ouster of reformists from parliament by religious conservatives - also failed to fix a date for a fifth round of talks.
"We started off with critical dialogue; then we moved onto constructive dialogue; and now we seem to be in a phase of monologue," was the wry spin on EU policy towards Iran given by one senior Tehran-based European diplomat.
As well as engaging Iran on the nuclear issue and human rights, the EU is also looking for progress in Iran's record on terrorism and a change in its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Tehran's official position is that Israel should be destroyed. On terrorism, various arms of Iran's security apparatus are suspected of harbouring Al Qaeda members, promoting anti-coalition violence in Iraq and financing attacks by Palestinian militants.
The European Union has made progress on these matters a condition for signing a proposed trade and cooperation agreement.
The tone among diplomats now is that for Iran such a deal is as elusive as ever, even if they are - for the time being - stopping short of suggesting the dialogue is about to grind to a halt.
BLAIR FACING BACKLASH OVER EUROPE
While the Prime Minister claimed he had put the brake on moves towards a European "superstate", it emerged he had ceded huge powers to Brussels and won nothing in return.
The hostile reception awaiting him comes as a new poll out this morning reveals that voters would reject a new EU constitution by 49% to 23%.
The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times also reveals massive ignorance amongst the public, who wrongly believe the constitution will introduce a new EU passport and will force Britain to ask the EU's approval to go to war.
Despite Blair's claims that the constitution represented a "success" for Britain, a string of senior Labour figures lined up to join the party's opponents in condemning the treaty.
And almost 30 business leaders, including the bosses of Tate & Lyle and J Sainsbury, confirmed that they would be writing to Blair to vent their fury. The pressure will be stepped up on Blair tomorrow by Conservative leader Michael Howard, who is to challenge him to hold the referendum immediately.
A spokesman for the Tory leader said he would use the Commons debate on the negotiations to expose the government's attempts to put off the vote for up to two years.
The first detailed analysis of the new treaty reveals that not a single power has been returned to national governments by the EU, while member states have also given up their power of veto over EU decisions.
MUSHARRAF FEARS FALLOUT OF WANA OPERATION
LONDON: President Pervez Musharraf is worried about retaliation for recent security raids on tribal groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), says a British newspaper.
In an interview published in the online version of Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Musharraf said he hoped that the fighting would not escalate to other tribal areas. "But it can have a fallout, these people have contacts elsewhere in the country and they can retaliate in the rest of the country in the form of bomb blasts, attacks on important persons and installations, and so we have to guard against that."
Musharraf also said he was worried about the rise of suicide bombers in Pakistan. "...Yes, it is the most dangerous act because counter-measures are difficult. We have to take counter-measures in the form of breaking the groups. And may I very proudly say that the intelligence agencies are doing an excellent job in breaking these groups."
To a question he admitted that US wanted direct presence in tribal territory initially. "They thought we might not be able to handle. But that could not be allowed and we did not allow it."
On reports regarding American aircraft overflying Pakistani territory, he said: "These are not deliberate violations. They are unintentional. We launch our complaints and protests; they normally apologise and say they will not do it again. So let's not create a problem out of a very minor issue."
The president said there could not be any proliferation of nuclear technology as now the best possible custodial measures were in place to protect the country's nuclear installations. "As far as our nuclear programme is concerned, we have put the best possible custodial measures protecting our installations. We have a National Command Authority, the highest body controlling our strategic assets, then there is a very well organised strategic planning division, headed by a very capable lieutenant-general who is looking after all our strategic assets," he said.
Musharraf said: "As far as those assets are concerned, they are under very strong controls of the armed forces of Pakistan. Here we have created an Army, Air Force, Navy strategic forces command, commanding all these assets. So I think we are very well organised."
He added that the intelligence and security arrangements had been beefed up and strengthened and all possible doubtful areas had been removed. "I think we have taken tremendous action. I am very sure that there cannot be any proliferation, there cannot be any assets falling into wrong hands. I am very sure about that."
Responding to a question on nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the president said: "He has been pardoned. He is not under house arrest. But he is in Islamabad at his house. For his own security he is not moving much at all. But certainly the family is moving around, the children are going to school. There is no restriction on them at all. "They can move around but in their own interests and for their own security, it is better that they stay in one place as much as possible."
SIX-PARTY TALKS: STRIKE 3
David Scofield, former lecturer at the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University, is currently conducting post-graduate research at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.
China, the host of this and the previous two rounds of talks, stated last week that US claims concerning North Korea's highly enriched uranium (HEU) project are, in Beijing's view, unfounded. Last week senior Chinese official Zhou Wenzhong was emphatic that his government had not been privy to any "smoking gun" intelligence indicating North Korea's uranium program.
This is crucially important, as it is the HEU project and not the far more transparent, plutonium-based nuclear-weapons initiatives that pose the greatest threat to regional and, potentially, global security. Plutonium enrichment is a difficult procedure and the process involves the release of krypton-85, a gas that can be monitored and tracked by the United States remotely. While North Korea's strangely public primary reactor site at Yongbyon is easier to monitor and inspect, the plutonium program seems designed to allow maximum visibility - a distraction from the country's secret HEU facilities thought to be buried under a mountain somewhere in the country's northeast. Though the exact location, scope and scale of the HEU project are still mysteries, the North Koreans themselves acknowledged its existence in meetings with US assistant secretary of state James Kelly in 2002, and testimony from Pakistan's nuclear godfather Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, confirms the long-term involvement of Pakistan in the development of this project.
But China seems ready to ignore the growing mountain of evidence, and North Korean's own admission, and focus only on the plutonium issue - a chip North Korea has demonstrated it is quite interested in bargaining away…
Meanwhile, the South Koreans have made no secret of their intention to offer "bountiful infrastructure, industrial and energy" aid to North Korea, as South Korea too is more than willing to look the other way concerning North Korea's clandestine nuclear development in the spirit of rapprochement and reconciliation…
Though Russia shares a short border along the Tumen River with North Korea, its attention is focused thousands of kilometers away. The threat of North Korea selling weapons-grade uranium or plutonium, for example, to domestic terror groups is small in the minds of Russian policymakers. Historically, North Korea has been careful not to offend the Russians, well aware of the importance of maintaining good relations with both Moscow and Beijing, its key benefactors. Russia's concerns about fissile material falling into the hands of domestic terror organizations do not center on North Korea but rather the relative abundance of such material on offer in former Soviet republics in Central Asia. As far as Moscow is concerned, nuclear black-marketeers within the borders of its former empire pose a far greater threat to Russian security than Kim Jong-il's stockpile.
The staunchest US ally in the region is undoubtedly Japan, but here too we see a shift. The Japanese certainly have no trust in Pyongyang and definitely recognize the inherent threat of the North Korean state, but Japan's view of the threat is increasingly divergent from that held by the United States. The Japanese are more concerned with North Korea's delivery systems, its missiles, than its nuclear program. Japan believes, perhaps rightly, that the chances of North Korea launching a preemptive nuclear strike are slim given the immediate and overwhelming reaction it would elicit and the crushing blow to Kim's rule it would no doubt usher. For Japan it is North Korea's force-projection platforms - its missiles - that are a greater menace.
The US declared that real progress at this round is crucial, but it seems any progress that does emerge from the meeting will likely be bilateral in nature, not multilateral as Washington had originally hoped. The United States could use another failure in Beijing, the third strike, as the excuse it needs to move the whole matter to the United Nations Security Council, but given the political relationship and geographical proximity of North Korea to two permanent members of the council (China and Russia), it is highly unlikely a resolution with teeth would be forthcoming. As the non-US members of the six-party confab continue to focus on more narrow, domestic agendas in their dealings with Pyongyang, a six-party solution to the North Korean problem seems as remote as ever.
PLENARY SESSION SEEN AS NEXT BATTLEGROUND
To the dying sounds of opposition gunfire, the congressional canvassing committee wound down Sunday night the second longest vote count in the history of the country's presidential elections.
Sniffing victory in the air, Malacañang was finalizing the inaugural program for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which is expected to be crowned by street parties in Cebu, the province that gave her a haymaker of a one-million-vote-plus margin over chief rival Fernando Poe Jr.
At the canvassing session, Poe's allies desperately fought to the end, lambasting alleged forgeries in vote tallies in Mindanao, denouncing the chair for its supposed one-sidedness and even questioning coverage by government television of the proceedings.
Protesting against alleged unfairness by the administration-dominated committee, Sanlakas party-list Representative JV Bautista stormed out of the session hall, saying he could no longer stomach the proceedings.
"The plenary will be the next battleground," Bautista later said on television.
Earlier, opposition leader Senator Edgardo Angara told the chair: "You can go ahead and conclude this joint session and say we have finished the canvass and we are now ready to proclaim (the winner)."
"What is the worth and value of that proclamation? It will be worthless. It will not have the ring of truth and credibility to it."
Not to be outdone, Senator Teresita Aquino-Oreta voiced disgust at another ruling by the chair.
"Why do you have the habit of cutting us off?" she angrily asked. "Let's have some civility here ... Just a little fairness. Are we rushing things?"
Makati City Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr. chewed out the government-run TV station NBN (National Broadcasting Network) when, at around noon, it suspended its coverage apparently to break off for lunch, as the opposition was about to present its case to the floor.
Liken olden days
Recalling the days of the dictatorship, Locsin said: "The last time this was done was during the time of Ferdinand Marcos where, whenever the opposition had something to say, the government television would switch off."
If NBN would be selective in its coverage, "I would suggest that the chair simply tell them to pack up and leave," Locsin said.
Pro-administration legislators have repeatedly denied allegations of widespread cheating to favor Ms Macapagal and accused the opposition of engaging in dilatory tactics to delay her proclamation.
The 13-day-old canvassing is the second longest vote count in the country's presidential election history, by the reckoning of administration lawmakers.