Nils Udgaard at PostGlobal

Nils Udgaard

Oslo, Norway

Nils Udgaard is the foreign editor of Norway's daily newspaper Aftenposten. Close.

Nils Udgaard

Oslo, Norway

Nils Udgaard is the foreign editor of Norway's daily newspaper Aftenposten. more »

Main Page | Nils Udgaard Archives | PostGlobal Archives

No Sense of Panic With Iran

The Iran issue is serious, but European diplomats have been working intensively on it for years and there is no sense of panic.

» Back to full entry

All Comments (29)

German Voice:
Mark Ernst:

Without the threat and possible use of Military or economic action that would affect Iran, why would they change? Iran wants Nuclear weapons, most sensible countries are deeply woried on what this would mean to the region and the world. Would they use these weapons or give away the technology? Provide them to a proxy to use? What would stop them I ask! You could not "prove" they did it and countries benefiting financially from deals would forestall any serious consequences.

Iran has threatened Europe and America for supporting Israel. Wouldn't an Iranian threat backed by nuclear weapons be radically different?

If Europeans are afraid of the current American Military campaign in Iran, shouldn't they be completely terrified by a nuclear Iran?

Do not wait until it is too late and Iran has nuclear weapons, which is what they want. We need a plan NOW with escalated steps to coerce and convince the Iranians that things will continue to get worse until they cooperate. All countries must see this wisdom, but will short term oil money blind them?

Old Atlantic:

To WaPo system programmers. When I posted at Europe Fears The Unintended Consequences thread last night about the same time as the above messages, my posts appeared immediately. But the above little posts were delayed.

Old Atlantic:

I have submitted 2 short posts pointing out that the above electronic post is longer than posts that the system eats without displaying. There is a bug in the WaPo system.

Old Atlantic:

I sometimes submit posts that never appear. They are not as long as the electronics post above, which may disappear at some point and make this comment hard to understand.

This just happened with the previous version of this post. Why is this little post not appearing, and the above huge electronic wares post going through?

German Voice:

A HANDLE, What's wrong with liberating the people in Iran? Do not have the Iranians the right to live in freedom?

Indeed, you're right! America shouldn't trust neither the European Union nor the German government. The problem is, is that the most politicians in Europe have very close ties to Russia and other socialist countries - not only this Joseph Martin "Joschka" Fischer. Today, there is no difference between Communists and NAZIS. The far left is now far right and vice versa.


ANONYMOUS, You're right! The MEK a.k.a. NCRI is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Group in the United States ( )! In Europe, the MEK is also listed as Foreign Terrorist Group, but not the NCRI! Their offices in Europe are still open.

In addition, after Coalition aircraft bombed MEK bases (in Iraq) at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the MEK leadership ordered its members not to resist Coalition forces, and a formal cease-fire arrangement was reached in May 2003. Over 3,000 MEK members are currently confined to Camp Ashraf, the MEK’s main compound north of Baghdad, where they remain under the Geneva Convention’s “protected person” status and Coalition control. As a condition of the cease-fire agreement, the group relinquished its weapons, including tanks, armored vehicles, and heavy artillery.

It should also be noted that the NCRI provides intelligence to the United States. Although not all information they provide are accurate, some information have been proven so. What does it mean? Well, you can find some information on the web site of the NCRI, which can be used as a starting point for further investigation.

No doubt, all socialist ideologies (marxism, communism, nazism, etc.) are crap, and everyone who kill an U.S. soldier or civilian should be send to death! However, if you want to collect information, you need to watch their web sites! Every intelligence service is doing that, therefore, why shouldn't we do it too? Am I right?

However, I had forgotten to mark the web site as a suspicious one! My bad! Thanks for pointing that out!

German Voice:

ANONYMOUS, I have posted a reply. Hope the blog owner will approve it soon.


Germans also import oil from Iran, about 8 billion euros a year. What is wrong with trade and business? The Europeans are a lot more realistic about matters of war, because they have suffered a lot. They have turned the corner and want to make an mature approach. Nothing wrong with that either.

Average Americans have never experienced the devastation of war, as the Europeans have. So, they are a lot more liberal with dispensing war.
Secondly, Americans never talk about the alternative, they only dismiss what they don't like.

The German Voice above refers to a web site of a group better known as the MKO, a group of officially recognised as a terrorist organisation in Europe and USA. FYI, they have killed Americans in Iran during the Shah's time and are a Marxist-Stalinist group that was essentially the Persian speaking arm of Saddam's Baath Party, dressed as an Iranian group.

J Young :

Diplomacy is underrated in today's society. We are too quick to resort to dangerous and irrational policies instead of exercising effective, although I do admit time consuming, diplomatic activities. Exhausting all diplomatic options before using violence should be the dominant philosophy in American foreign policy. But in order for this to happen, Americans need to become knowledgeable in the culture, languages, and politics of the region, something that is clearly lacking among our foreign policy elites.

A Handle:

First, the "Anonymous" poster above says I am behind the times.
Actually, I am quite familiar with the treaty and the extensive discussions about whether Britain would join -- remember the old ECM?
Yes, the Euros have created major political and cultural shifts and the European HCR may yet bring aobut more profound changes.

We were not discussing that -- this column was about European "diplomacy" vis-a-vis Iran -- remember?

Another poster, German Voice, says "nuke Iran." What kind of insanity is this?

Then Amviennava writes:

"The process between the EU and Turkey is an example of maturity. Before a country can join the EU it must meet specific criteria, economic, political, and even cultural. It is we, in the US, who are in a hurry. But it seems to me that the process lets everyone concerned decide to go through with it; and to also decide WHETHER they want to go through with it."

Actually, the US probably doesn't care about the rate at which the process of admitting, vel non, Turkey, goes forward.

The notion of "meet[ing]specific criteria, economic, political, and even cultural" are seen by many as code words to keep Turkey out because it would represent a potential influx of Muslims above and beyond what Europe has.

But, I came here to talk about European diplomacy. Readers might be interested to check out the editorial in The Wall Street Journal on just what European diplomacy has meant vis-a-vis Iran.

The editorial makes the point that Europeans have continued to foster a regime in Iran while paying lip service to security and human rights.

It's funny, but in the case of Iran the same criterial of economic, political and even cultural norms do not apply -- but when it comes to Turkey, they are used to keep it out.

European diplomacy in this context is hypocrisy and useless.

Europe and the Mullahs
February 20, 2007; Page A16

On the record, Europe claims to be as concerned as America about a nuclear-armed Iran. The record also shows, however, that Europe's biggest countries do a booming business with the Islamic Republic. And so far for the Continentals, manna trumps security.

The European Union -- led by Germany, France and Italy -- has long been Iran's largest trading partner. Its share of Iran's total imports is about 35%. Even more notable: Its trade with Tehran has expanded since Iran's secret nuclear program was exposed. Between 2003 and 2005, Europe's exports rose 29% to €12.9 billion; machinery, transport equipment and chemicals make up the bulk of the sales. Imports from Iran, predominantly oil, increased 62% to €11.4 billion in that period.

In the absence of an official embargo against Tehran, private EU companies have sought commercial opportunities in Iran. But the real story here is that these businesses are subsidized by European taxpayers. Government-backed export guarantees have fueled the expansion in trade. That, in turn, has boosted Iran's economy and -- indirectly by filling government coffers with revenues -- its nuclear program. The German record stands out. In its 2004 annual report on export guarantees, Berlin's Economics Ministry dedicated a special section to Iran that captures its giddy excitement about business with Tehran.

"Federal Government export credit guarantees played a crucial role for German exports to Iran; the volume of coverage of Iranian buyers rose by a factor of almost 3.5 to some €2.3 billion compared to the previous year," the report said. "The Federal Government thus insured something like 65% of total German exports to the country. Iran lies second in the league of countries with the highest coverage in 2004, hot on the heels of China."

Iran tops Germany's list of countries with the largest outstanding export guarantees, totaling €5.5 billion. France's export guarantees to Iran amount to about €1 billion. Italy's come to €4.5 billion, accounting for 20% of Rome's overall guarantee portfolio. Little Austria had, at the end of 2005, €800 million of its exports to Iran covered by guarantees.

The Europeans aren't simply facilitating business between private companies. The vast majority of Iranian industry is state-controlled, while even private companies have been known to act as fronts for the country's nuclear program. EU taxpayers underwrite trade and investment that would otherwise be deterred by the risks of doing business with a rogue regime.

It's also hard not to see a connection between Europe's commercial interests and its lenient diplomacy. The U.N.'s December sanctions resolution orders countries to freeze the assets of only 10 specific companies and 12 individuals with ties to Iran's nuclear program. Europe's governments continue to resist U.S. calls for financial sanctions, and the German Chamber of Commerce recently estimated that tougher economic sanctions would cost 10,000 German jobs.

As if on cue, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier last week detected in Tehran a "new ambition" to resume talks. The last time the Europeans promoted such diplomatic negotiations, Iran won two more years to get closer to its goal of becoming a nuclear power. In 2004, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily, then-Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told Iranians to consider Europe a "protective shield" against U.S. pressure. The EU continues to provide a shield for its business interests in Iran, and thus a lifeline to a regime that is unpopular at home and sponsors terror abroad.


A Handle February 19, 2007 3:45 PM:

The process between the EU and Turkey is an example of maturity. Before a country can join the EU it must meet specific criteria, economic, political, and even cultural. It is we, in the US, who are in a hurry. But it seems to me that the process lets everyone concerned decide to go through with it; and to also decide WHETHER they want to go through with it.

German Voice:

Nils Udgaard: "...The combination of U.S. muscle and European negotiating skills (and knowledge of the region) will lead the way forward..."

Sure, the socialist European Union supports Iran. Therefore, who needs the EU? It's time to realize that the EU is just a socialist dictatorship.

It's time to nuke Iran and to liberate the people from dictatorship!


All devestating wars where tens of millions were killed (WWI and WWII) were essentially within and amongst Christians.

And all destructive weapons since the Industrial Age are a christian product.

Enough said?


The Poster A HANDLE is very much behind times....The EU means The European Union set by the Treaty of Amsterdam 1997 (i.e. 10 years ago) and the Maastricht Treaty 1992 (14 years ago) made fundamental and structural changes and created a UNION for political, social, economical and structural convergence to include foreign policy and common military development.

Next thing you know, this guy wants to make references to some version of a Bible story, i.e. a text from 2000 years ago! Things change, people advance....some even become smarter.


Mr, Upgaard,

That is part of the problem. "Diplomacy is time consumning". How many countries have gotten the atom bomb while all of our politicians talked, and talked? And then everyone acts surprised when the country in question sets off their first little explosion. I am not saying to invade, and or war. But one quick strike with jets, or a special unit to destroy the plant in question would send a powerful message. I often wonder if either the Clinton administration and or the Bush administration would have taken out Bin Laden when they both had the opportunity would we be where we are today. Yes, I know another crackpot will pop up and take the ones place that was killed. But to me we always ignore the warnings. We blow the chance to use a fly swater, and resort to a shotgun. So yes, I do think we have to worry about how much time we have. Before we wake up one morning with a bunch of religious nuts armed to the teeth with nukes pointed at all of us. And no I am not against religion. Just the men and women who use religion to kill fellow humans. If your going to kill people, don't blame God, or your religion. It facinates me that in america we have a group of people who are always screaming about how the religious right are dangerous in this country, but fanatical religious countries overseas don't seem to bother them. In my opinion, they are all dangerous.

A Handle:

Rose: "Amusing, but unconvincing."

You reveal a lot about your rigidity and inability to grasp the obvious even when it hits you in the face.

Then, of course, you resort to mockery with "like God is an American."

Actually I didn't say any such thing. God may be a Euro, if she exists.

Now go away and bug someone else... I'm done with you.

Robert Rose:

Amusing, but unconvincing.

EU an "economic treaty"... like God is an American.

A Handle:

Robert Rose

If you confuse an economic treaty (EU) with diplomacy, you need to get a hold of yourself.

BTW, I do agree that the EU is a most complex and remarkable achievement.

You really think it is arguable that the US has not achieved anything of such profound consequence to world civilization (politically, economically, culturally, etc.) in the past 50 years?

Hmmm... let's see, that takes us back to 1957.

Go backwards... in no particular order:

i. the demise of the Soviet Union
ii. the Internet
iii. the PC (as in computer)
iv. peace in N. Ireland
v. space travel - landing a man on the moon
vi. the liberation of Kuwait

oh, yes, and vii.

making the EU possible in the first place ... or did you miss that one?

Robert Rose:

"I wonder if "European diplomacy" has achieved anything of consequence to the world in the past 50 years."

Stop wondering! It has achieved the European Union. A most complex and remarkable achievement. A first at both uniting and sharing the world.

It is arguable that the US did not achieve anything of such profound consequences to world civilization (politically, economically, culturally, etc.) in the past 50 years.

A Handle:

I wonder if "European diplomacy" has achieved anything of consequence to the world in the past 50 years.

You people can't even agree on letting Turkey into the EU, and here you are suggesting that European diplomacy has been at work in Iran.

Iraq is a disaster, no question, for the US, for Iraq, for everyone.

Eventually, the Iranian standoff with the US will be negotiated out. The US is not in a position to wage war against Iran -- sure, a bombing campaign could be carried out, but what then?

The US will do the negotiating for itself, much like it did with N. Korea - with a little lean from China.

Europe, in the context of Iran, really has nothing to say. Again China may use its influence to get that situation off dead center and perhaps Russia too. But Europe? You've gotta be kidding!

Satori Zen:

I know, Israel is the mini world's saviour, and the US is The Saviour. Judeo-Christian, eh?

I am not unaware that the US "already have missiles capabale (sic) of holding nuclear weapons that can reach... all over the world... that "no country (is)immune from their threats."

"Perhaps you think... they will not use them?" They already have (Google search where)... And depleted uranium: in Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq... destroying the genetic material of Humanity. Saviours!

Don't be sorry for me, be sorry for yourself.


Satori zen: Had the west been a little more paranoid, Hitler may never have nearly destroyed the world. Had Israel been a little less paranoid in 1981, Saddam may have. I am sorry for you that you think norway, all the way up there in the nordic region, is somehow immune from the all to real danger of an iranian nuclear threat. Perhaps you were unaware that they already have missiles capabale of holding nuclear weapons that can reach europe. Sooner or later, that capability will reach all over the world. If and when they obtain nukes, no country will be immune from their threats. Perhaps you think once they obtain these capabilities, that they will not use them? Perhaps you did not hear when Ahmidinijad advised europe last october that it may be injured if it continues to support israel. I know israel will defend itself if attacked, and it may just save norway as well. how is that for zen.

Satori Zen:

"If iran... threatened norway with destruction..." The everlasting obsession, one's very own paranoia, projected on Norway... and on the world.


Admiral Yamamoto (WWII) said it best: "There is no last word in diplomacy."


Sir: I am sure you are aware that a not so secret memo roaming around the EU is that iranian nuclear weapons are a fait accompli. If iran were to obtain nukes, and threatened norway with destruction if it did not break all relations with the usa and israel, what would norway do? would it fight iran, or would it capitulate? Geez, i wonder.

A. L. Hough:

"Jaw, jaw," is better than "war, war." It appears that we in the US really would rather bomb, bomb, and talk, talk. What a price to pay for hubris.

Robert Rose:

"Diplomacy is a very time consuming business."

So is a protracted war, and more costly, sometimes ruinous. Seems to me that generally, time is therefore better spent on diplomacy than on war. All the more so when there is no acceptable military solution to a conflict, and it is well known only a negociated political solution will ever put an end to it.

Old Atlantic:


European diplomats have been working intensively on it for years and there is no sense of panic.

end quote

This has to be intentional self-parody. This is why we have to invade Iran while our battle losses will be 350 to 1500 killed. European diplomats will let Iran buy more Russian anti-ship missiles. European diplomats let Iran kill 170 Americans in Iraq. European diplomats let Iran sponsored terrorists kill 241 American Marines in Lebanon, also with explosives.

France built a shipyard for Pakistan to build subs. Pakistan is miniaturizing nulcear warheads to go on missiles on subs. European diplomats say its too late to do anything about Pakistan. But rest assured, they had no sense of panic while Pakistan got nukes. In fact, A Q Khan got his Ph.D. in Belgium and his centrifuge designs there as well. No panic then. No panic now. Do they have a pulse? Do we want to keep our pulse?


Well said. Diplomacy is indeed a time consuming business and, more importantly a military campaign without a political component is nothing more than a waste of time and resources (on all sides).

Post a comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.


  • America's Role
  • Business and Technology
  • Culture and Society
  • Environment
  • Human Rights
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Islamic Movements
  • Israel-Palestine
  • Power Politics & Diplomacy
  • Security and Terrorism
  • The Global Economy
  • The New Asia
PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send your comments, questions and suggestions for PostGlobal to Lauren Keane, its producer.