News

 

DATE=  10/02/97

      TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP

    NUMBER=6-10375

     TITLE=THE FRENCH NATURAL GAS DEAL WITH IRAN

    BYLINE=ANDREW N. GUTHRIE

 TELEPHONE=619-3335

  DATELINE=WASHINGTON

    EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS



CONTENT=



INTRO:   A HUGE NATURAL GAS EXPLOITATION DEAL BETWEEN A FRENCH 

         ENERGY COMPANY AND THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAN HAS EMBROILED 

         THE UNITED STATES IN YET ANOTHER TRADE DISAGREEMENT.



         THE TWO-BILLION-DOLLAR DEAL, ANNOUNCED MONDAY BY THE 

         FRENCH OIL COMPANY TOTAL, COULD ACTIVATE A 1996 U-S LAW 

         THAT CALLS FOR PUNISHING ANY FOREIGN COMPANY THAT SPENDS

         MORE THAN 40-MILLION DOLLARS IN THE IRANIAN OIL AND GAS 

         INDUSTRY.



         U-S NEWSPAPERS GENERALLY SUGGEST THAT THIS IS  NOT  THE 

         TIME TO INVOKE SANCTIONS AGAINST BASICALLY FRIENDLY 

         COUNTRIES, INCLUDING FRANCE, WHO DO  NOT  AGREE WITH THE

         U-S POSITION.



         WE GET A SAMPLING OF EDITORIAL COMMENT NOW FROM 

         __________________ IN TODAY'S U-S OPINION ROUNDUP.



TEXT:    THE WHITE HOUSE SAYS IT WILL TAKE SEVERAL WEEKS TO STUDY

         THE CONTRACT SIGNED BY THE FRENCH COMPANY WITH THE OIL 

         AND GAS MINISTRY OF IRAN.  IN THE MEANTIME, FRENCH PRIME

         MINISTER LIONEL JOSPIN DEFENDED THE DEAL, AND THE 

         EUROPEAN UNION IS SAYING U-S SANCTIONS COULD RESULT IN 

         TRADE RETALIATION.



         A 1996 U-S ANTI-TERRORISM LAW MANDATES SANCTIONS AGAINST

         ANY FOREIGN COMPANY THAT MAKES OTHER THAN SMALL 

         INVESTMENTS IN THE OIL INDUSTRIES OF IRAN OR LIBYA, TWO 

         NATIONS THAT THE U-S GOVERNMENT SAYS SPONSOR 

         INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM.



         THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION SAYS IT WILL RENEW ITS 

         EFFORTS TO PERSUADE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES TO JOIN THE U-S 

         BID TO ISOLATE IRAN BECAUSE OF THE THREAT THAT NATION 

         POSES TO REGIONAL PEACE.  HOWEVER, IN THE EDITORIALS, 

         SEVERAL PAPERS NOTE THAT WITH THE RECENT ELECTION OF 

         MOHAMMAD KHATAMI, A SOMEWHAT REFORMIST PRESIDENT, THE 

         SITUATION IN IRAN IS IN FLUX, AND THIS IS NOT A TIME TO 

         USE A HEAVY DIPLOMATIC HAND.



         WE BEGIN OUR SAMPLING WITH THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, WHICH 

         SAYS IN PART:



VOICE:   "THE UNITED STATES MAY BE HEADING TOWARD A NASTY 

         CONFRONTATION WITH ITS EUROPEAN ALLIES [OVER THE DEAL] 

         THAT WILL BENEFIT NO ONE.  ..... WHAT'S NEEDED IS  NOT  

         A FEUD AMONG PARTNERS OVER AN ISSUE OF SECONDARY 

         IMPORTANCE [,] BUT A COMMITTED EFFORT TO DEVISE A MORE 

         COOPERATIVE POLICY FOR DEALING WITH IRAN, A COUNTRY 

         THAT, WHOEVER GOVERNS IT, IS SIMPLY TOO IMPORTANT TO 

         IGNORE OR TRY TO ISOLATE.  THE SANCTIONS POLICY LONG 

         PURSUED BY WASHINGTON HAS  NOT  BEEN NOTABLY SUCCESSFUL 

         IN ENCOURAGING CHANGES IN IRANIAN BEHAVIOR.  NEITHER HAS

         THE CONCILIATORY 'CRITICAL DIALOGUE' MORE RECENTLY TRIED

         BY THE EUROPEANS.  ..... AS THE TOTAL CASE SHOWS, THE 

         THREAT OF SANCTIONS TURNS OUT TO BE ESSENTIALLY 

         IMPRACTICAL WHEN LARGER ISSUES OF POLITICAL AND 

         STRATEGIC COMPLEXITY ARE AT STAKE."



TEXT:    ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTRY, THE BOSTON GLOBE 

         AGREES.



VOICE:   "AS A PRACTICAL MATTER .... TOTAL AND ITS RUSSIAN AND 

         MALAYSIAN PARTNERS HAVE DEMONSTRATED THAT THE U-S LAW 

         HAS NO DETERRENT EFFECT.  TOTAL SOLD OFF ITS ONE 

         VULNERABLE U-S HOLDING JUST BEFORE CLOSING ITS 

         LONG-PREPARED DEAL WITH IRAN.   HENCE, IT IS IMPERVIOUS 

         TO POSSIBLE SANCTIONS ..... THE PERILS EMANATING FROM 

         TEHRAN'S CLERICAL DESPOTISM ARE QUITE REAL.  THE 

         LEADERS' PURSUIT OF NUCLEAR, CHEMICAL, AND BIOLOGICAL 

         WEAPONS ULTIMATELY THREATENS FRENCH INTERESTS NO LESS 

         THAN U-S INTERESTS.  THEIR MANY ACTS OF TERRORISM ON 

         EUROPEAN SOIL OUGHT TO HAVE MADE [PRIME MINISTER LIONEL]

         JOSPIN LESS GLEEFUL ABOUT DOING BUSINESS WITH THEM.  



         NONETHELESS, RESENTMENT OVER U-S MEDDLING IN FOREIGN 

         TRADE IS MORE APT TO ENCOURAGE THAN TO DISCOURAGE 

         EUROPEAN DEALINGS WITH TEHRAN.  THE UNITED STATES HAS A 

         BETTER CHANCE OF AFFECTING THE BEHAVIOR OF IRRESPONSIBLE

         ALLIES IF IT TRIES THE CARROTS AND STICKS OF TRADITIONAL

         STATECRAFT."



TEXT:    THE NEW YORK TIMES SAYS THE DEAL IS "DOUBLY 

         UNFORTUNATE," BUT SUGGESTS AIMING THE SANCTIONS AT IRAN,

         NOT  FRANCE.



VOICE:   "IT [THE DEAL] WILL PROVIDE NEW FUNDS TO A GOVERNMENT 

         THAT IS EXPORTING TERRORISM, DEVELOPING NUCLEAR WEAPONS 

         AND DISRUPTING PEACE EFFORTS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE ARAB

         WORLD.  THE CONTRACT COULD ALSO TRIGGER THE FIRST 

         APPLICATION OF THE IRAN-LIBYA SANCTIONS ACT, AN 

         ILL-ADVISED LAW THAT ATTEMPTS TO IMPOSE AMERICAN 

         PENALTIES ON FOREIGN COMPANIES DOING ENERGY BUSINESS 

         WITH IRAN OF LIBYA.  ..... FRANCE HAS ... UNHELPFULLY 

         APPOINTED ITSELF THE WORLD'S LEADING CHALLENGER OF 

         AMERICAN DIPLOMACY AND ECONOMIC IDEAS."



                              [OPT]



TEXT:     ON LONG ISLAND, NEWSDAY, WARNS THAT IN THIS INSTANCE, 

         U-S POLICY IS "JUST NOT REALISTIC."



VOICE:   "A FRENCH AGREEMENT WITH IRAN TO EXPLORE IRANIAN NATURAL

         GAS FIELDS IS  NOT  THE RIGHT SUBJECT, NOR IS THIS THE 

         RIGHT TIME, FOR INVOKING AMERICAN LAWS AIMED AT 

         ISOLATING IRAN....  THE FRENCH ARE BEING THEIR USUAL 

         OBSTINATE, DIFFICULT SELVES....  BUT MANY MIDEAST 

         EXPERTS BELIEVE THE SITUATION MAY BE CHANGING SO 

         FUNDAMENTALLY IN IRAN THAT NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR A 

         MAJOR CONFRONTATION, ESPECIALLY ONE THAT WOULD DAMAGE 

         THE [WESTERN] ALLIANCE."



                            [END OPT]



TEXT:    THE WASHINGTON POST SAYS PRESIDENT CLINTON'S HAND IS 

         BEING FORCED TO INVOKE THE PENALTY, BUT IF HE DOES, IT 

         WILL BE NO VICTORY.



VOICE:   "IT WAS EITHER THAT OR, BY PULLING BACK, TO INVITE A 

         PAINFUL BLOW TO [U-S] INTEREST AND PRIDE.  TO MOVE 

         AHEAD, THOUGH, MAY TURN OUT TO BE NO LESS STRESSFUL, 

         SINCE IT INVOLVES INVOKING PUNITIVE SANCTIONS  NOT 

         AGAINST ADVERSARIES BUT AGAINST SOME OF WASHINGTON'S 

         CLOSEST ALLIES. ....... THE DETERIORATION OF THIS 

         DISPUTE INTO OPEN POLITICAL CONFLICT AMONG ALLIES IS A 

         MAJOR MARK AGAINST AMERICAN DIPLOMACY."



TEXT:    ON THAT UNIFORMLY DISMAL FORECAST REGARDING THIS LATEST 

         TRADE DISPUTE BETWEEN THE U-S AND -- BY PROXY -- IRAN, 

         WE CONCLUDE THIS U-S OPINION ROUNDUP.



NEB/ANG/RRM 



02-Oct-97 1:28 PM EDT (1728 UTC)

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Source: Voice of America

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