Reminiscent of his 1998 comment after visiting Saddam Hussein, “I think I can do business with him,” Annan told reporters on Thursday: “I had a 40-minute conversation with Mr. [Ali] Larijani, the Iranian negotiator of the nuclear issue. ...He in turn affirmed to me that they are interested in serious and constructive negotiations...” He later explained, “the negotiations relate to the EU3,” Britain, France, and Germany.
Trouble is, that a few hours earlier the EU3 had issued a statement saying “we have decided to inform the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] Board of Governors that our discussions with Iran have reached an impasse.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had also told reporters: “The United States fully supports the decision announced today by the [E3-EU]...the basis for negotiation is no longer there, because what the Iranians did was to unilaterally destroy the basis on which the negotiations were taking place...”
Following the secretary-general’s news conference, rumor has it that France’s U.N. ambassador complained to Annan directly, but Annan was said to be livid — not at Iran — but at the criticism.
Such a reaction would be par for the course for Kofi Annan, who has done little to hide his bias. He was asked in Friday’s press briefing, “Are you indicating that perhaps it is too early for the IAEA to refer the Iranian dispute to the Security Council?” He answered: “First of all, I think we should try and resolve it, if possible, in the IAEA context. [Mohamed] ElBaradei is working with the parties, doing his best to try and resolve it there.” And he added: “I have been talking to all the parties, doing whatever I can to encourage a negotiated settlement and really keeping people at the table and trying to discourage escalation, and I will continue to do that.”
In other words, as far as Annan is concerned, the problem is not that Iran has escalated the stakes. The problem is that involvement of the Security Council, which is supposed to be the “organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security,” is escalation. The U.N. chief aims to shift the dynamic from taking strong action against an Iranian madman, bent on nuclear proliferation and the obliteration of a U.N. member state, to placing roadblocks in the way of an American-driven effort to stop it.