Well, this should certainly set things to rights in our ongoing dance with Tehran.
PARIS — One day after the director general of the United Nations nuclear watchdog castigated Iran for blocking inquiries into its nuclear program, the organization’s governing body voted on Friday to censure Tehran and demanded that it freeze operations “immediately” at a once-secret uranium enrichment plant. The panel also expressed “serious concern” about potential military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.
This comes close on the heels of the IAEA report stating that Iran was not cooperating with their inspections of Iran’s secret uranium enrichment plant. Despite the somewhat snarky title of this column, there is some tentative good news in this report. Both Russia and China signed on this time, which comes as something of a shock compared to their past attitudes. Some are attributing China’s apparent change of heart to Obama’s recent visit to that nation along with warnings from U.S. representatives to the Chinese that the escalating situation could result in threats to their oil supply from Iran.
Still, while there’s some reason to be hopeful, a “strongly worded letter” is far short of real action. The question is, will the Russians and the Chinese sign on for serious additional sanctions against Iran. A bit of lip service is one thing. Building a coalition of the worlds greatest powers to hit them in the pocketbook would be something else entirely. And if you are serious about wanting to avoid war with Iran, preferring a diplomatic resolution to the tensions there, sanctions from a unified front of Tehran’s biggest customers is likely the only tool we have in the bag.
I remain skeptical about the idea that anything at this point will stop Iran (as well as a number of other nations) from eventually getting nuclear weapons. For that matter, I’m not sure if it’s even possible, or if it’s America’s job to dictate who will or will not have them. That genie is out of the bottle and nobody is going to cram it back in.
But it would be nice to see the existing powers working together on non-proliferation efforts rather than using atomic gamesmanship to poke a finger in the eye of the others. If the Obama administration has actually found a wedge to force that door open, then I’ll applaud them for at least making some progress. But as I said, that remains to be seen. We’ve had plenty of strongly worded letters in the past. Real action, however, has been in short supply.
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