Blix urges patience over Iran

The international community should offer Iran more incentives to renounce its nuclear programme, the former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Hans Blix, said on Monday at an energy seminar in Norway.

“We still have time on our side. Iran can’t have a nuclear bomb until five years from now,” Blix said in the southwestern Norwegian town of Bergen, the NTB news agency reported.

“The United States has given North Korea time to negotiate while Iran has been given a short deadline. The United States and other great powers should negotiate with Iran and offer a few carrots like they did with North Korea,” the former Swedish diplomat said.

Tension has mounted in recent months as world powers, in particular the administration of US President George W. Bush, have accused Tehran of concealing a suspected nuclear weapons program and of aiding Iraqi insurgents.

In 2003, Blix opposed the US-led military strike against Iraq amid allegations that the country had weapons of massive destruction – claims that turned out to be false – and had instead called for the United Nations and its nuclear watchdog IAEA to continue its inspections.

Blix also said on Monday that he did not believe the United States would invade Iran given its negative experience in Iraq, but said it could carry out targeted strikes on military installations.

“The United States could bomb or launch missiles on several places in Iran. Then the reaction would be violent and that would lead to increased terrorism,” he said.

“The United States has not wanted to talk to Iran since 1980. And with 130,000 US soldiers in Iraq and US bases almost everywhere, one could ask who’s threatening who,” he said.

Last week, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (United States, Britain, France, China and Russia) gave Iran one month to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, but did not specify what measures it would take if Tehran failed to comply.

Iran has so far refused to freeze its uranium enrichment programme, which it resumed in January and which it claims is for civilian energy needs.


Uppsala English school’s ‘tough love’ breaks law

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate has ruled that a "disciplinary contract" used by the International English School (IES) in Uppsala is in breach of the law, despite the school's attempt to defend its "tough love" culture.

Uppsala English school's 'tough love' breaks law

An official complaint against the school, which is mainly attended by children aged nine to 12, was submitted in November to the inspectorate by an unnamed relative of one of its pupils.

The complainant argued that pupils should not be disciplined for calling teachers by their first names, which is common practice elsewhere in Sweden. The letter also noted that girls at the school could be punished for having a bra strap showing.

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” target=”_blank”>Uppsala school defends its ‘tough love’ culture

School principal Mikael Östling said in response that many of the points in the official complaint were moot, as the children respected the disciplinary culture at the school and were rarely given detention.

“We think a distraction-free learning environment is more important than being able to show your underwear,” school principal Mikael Östling told The Local in April, as the school awaited the inspectorate’s verdict.

“We follow the Swedish school laws, but we also have an Anglo-American heritage, which we are proud of and enhances our profile,” he said at the time.

Students and their parents sign a comportment contract before the start of term, which has now been officially deemed unlawful by the Schools Inspectorate.

A similar complaint had been made against the IES school in Linköping, reported the TT news agency.

The IES network in Sweden has about 13,000 students. Its American-born founder Barbara Bergström penned the official reply to the state agency, in which she argued that the “tough love” ethos was good for the children and helped create a productive learning environment.

One of the parents whose children attend the Uppsala school said she thought using the term “tough love” might give people the wrong idea, as she found that her children thrived in their new school and said the teachers were kind.

“The school contract has some silly little things like no ‘häng’ (lowslung trousers), no chewing gum, and no visible bra straps, but I’d rather have a school with no häng than one where everything is allowed,” the mother-of-two told The Local last month.

Ann Törnkvist

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