Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance will make a whirlwind tour of European capitals next week seeking support for U.S. initiatives in the Iran crisis, as part of a campaign by President Carter to "turn the screws" on Iran day by day.
Carter told congressmen at a White House dinner last night that every few days he will "turn the screws a little tighter" on Iran, an unidentified guest told Associated Press. A United Press International source reported from the dinner, "The president said he is prepared to start turning the screws on Iran daily."
The Vance trip is expected to include London, Paris. Bonn and Rome as well as a previously planned Brussels meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
State Department spokesman Hoding Carter said "a number of initiatives are under way" in the wake of Tuesday's unanimous resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling for immediate release of Iran's 50 American hostages. The U.N. vote has provided "a basis for new action and approaches," both public and private, of a nonmilitary nature, he said.
At the White House, the first step in the latest initiative was a public statement by Vice President Mondale designed to keep the attention focused on treatment of the 50 American hostages.
"Even prisoners of war are guaranteed certain standards of human treatment," Mondale said. "But these standards are being dragged in the dirt every day by a group of kidnapers with the acquiescence of the [Iranian] government."
Later, some American Islamic leaders met with President Carter so that, according to a White House statement, he could assure them that "the United States is not hostile toward Islam as a religion."
While these and other steps were going forward yesterday, the Iranian crisis continued to be drawn into the arena of presidential politics. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, (D-Mass.), already under fire for public critisim of Iran's deposed shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, defended those views and went a step further.
Campaigning in Washington, Kennedy said at a news conference that there should be a public debate on whether to grant the shah permanent asylum in this country.
White House officials have said that the question of permanent asylum here has not arisen, and that the administration is attempting to help the deposed monarch find a permanent home in another country.
In San Antonio, Tex., yesterday, spokesman Robert Armao said the shah has ruled out Egypt, Panama or the Bahamas as his eventual home and South Africa has been ruled out for "the time being."
Kennedy's latest comments evoked no reaction from White House aides, who are clearly content to allow others to attack the senato for them. But reaction came quickly from Republican presidential hopeful John B. Connally.
Describing himself as "shocked" and "disappointed," Connally said, "I can't think of anything more destructive or harmful to the president's efforts to free the hostages" than a public debate on the shah.
Kennedy said later that he has assurance from Vance that the shah would not be granted permanent asylum in this country before consultation with members of the Senate. A spokesman quoted Kennedy as saying this assurance answered the concern that he had.
Yesterday's administration emphasis on treatment of the hostages was aimed at forcing Iranian authorities to back up their claim that the Americans are being treated well.
In addition to Mondale, Vance told reporters on Capitol Hill that the hostages are being held in "inhuman" conditions. He demanded that Iran permit doctors and neutral observers to check their conditions and make certain that non has been killed or injured.
Meanwhile, appearing at a New York fund-raising dinner in place of her husband, Rosalynn Carter said last night that the hostages are being held "by a mob and a government that have become one and the same."
Mondale's prepared statement at the White House also appeared to be a response to Kennedy's earlier charge that the shah "ran one of the most violent regimes in the history of mankind."
"We hear a great deal about the crimes of the shah, but that is not the issue." Mondale said "The issue which disturbs the American people is that 50 of our fellow citizens are being abused, in violation of international law."
White House officials were disappointed with the comments of the American Islamic leaders after they met with they president. The leaders said that measures to defuse the crisis were discussed, but they stopped short of condemning the taking of the hostages, and in fact some of them believe the United States should accede to Iranian demands for the return of the shah.
Mohammed Jawad Chirri of Detroit warned that any U.S. military action against Iran would leave "a great scar" on the Moslem world.
On another front, the State and Treasury departments sent a team of high-level officials to European capitals yesterday to discuss the administration's freeze on Iranian assets and other economic measures taken against Iran. An announcement said the officials, headed by Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Carswell, would visit London, Paris, Bonn, Berne and Rome.
The renewed public acitivity followed a National Security Council meeting Tuesday that dealt largely with new moves in the Iran crisis. While refusing to specify what initiatives are being prepared, State Department spokesman Carter said that "the United States intends over the next days and weeks to pursue a number of methods for reaching the objective set out in the U.N. resolution."
Heavy emphasis on the U.N. resolution was a reflection of the central role accored the world body in Washington's hopes for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, which has passed its 32rd day.
Reliable sources said many of the U.S. measures are designed to help nudge Iran into cooperating with U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim's new drive to open an effective channel of communication and negotiation between Washington and Tehran.
He was given his mandate Tuesday when the Security Council adopted a resolution calling for immediate release of the hostages, while opening the way for Iran to get off its collision course with the United States by accepting U.N. mediation.
The resolution was passed after a four-day emergency debate that saw countries representing every region of the world and every shade of political and ideological belief agree uanimously that Iran's actions have violated international law.
As a result, both the administration and the wider diplomatic community are hoping that the Iranian authorities will realize they are isolated and start backing away from their defiance of the U.N. As State Department spokesman Carter put it yesterday:
"It is difficult to believe that the entire leadership of Iran is unmindful of the fact that Moslems and non-Moslems, East and West, the Third World and the developed world, stands as one on this question."
Diplomatic sources said it probably will require two or three days to determine whetherly Iran will respond postively to the U.N. initiative. But, the sources added, the first signals from Tehran have provided grounds for cautious optimism.
Waldheim talked directly yesterday with acting Foreign Minister Sadagh Ghotbzadeh, who, while not making any commitments, is understood to have held the door open to further exploration of the possibility of U.N. mediation.
In addition, U.N. officials have been encouraged because the government-controlled Iranian media, including influential Tehran Radio, have refrained d so far from attacking the U.N. resolution and instead have reacted to it in a low-key, almost noncommittal manner.
However, reliable sources cautioned, these signs are being interpreted not as proof that Iran is moving toward cooperating with the U.N.'s overtures, but as an indication that the matter is still being debated within the power centers controlling Iran.
Specifically, the sources said, any Iranian decision to move even tentatively toward mediation will require a consensus involving Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the rest of the Islamic Revolutionary Council and the increasingly independent militants who seized the embassy Nov. 4.
If such a consensus is achieved, the next step would involve choosing one of the several options that Waldheim is understood to have offered Ghotbzadeh for furthering the exploration.
The most likely choices would be for Waldheim to send a special representative to Tehran for talks with Ghotbzadeh or for the secretary general to deal with the Iranians through an envoy who Ghotbzadeh has said will be sent to New York shortly.