Iran announced that they will remove the IAEA seals from their nuclear research facilities on Monday, pledging to restart research that had been suspended for almost two years. The removal of the seals is in direct violation of UN regulations, and has prompted yet another round of warnings form the West. (Reuters: Iran to remove U.N. seals at atomic research sites).
While on the surface, the issue of Iran's nuclear research would appear to be a staring contest between Israel and the rest of the Middle East, the undercurrent in the entire dispute is the authority and credibility of the UN. The crisis with Iran has been ongoing for almost two years and we are no further along today than we were in early 2004. The UN has been powerless for that entire period, stymied by weak resolutions and delaying tactics forced primarily by Russia.
To date there are no resolutions that threaten Iran with military action. On the contrary, every resolution passed to date has tiptoed gracefully around the topic, only threatening further resolutions if Iran does not comply. Describing the current set of resolutions as useless seems too much of an understatement. Iran has already thumbed its nose at the UN with removal of some seals earlier this year. Now they are prepared to go the rest of the way, removing the remainder of the seals and restarting their research. When will the UN get the message? When will the UN actually show some backbone and actually enforce their own regulations and directives?
The credibility of the UN is on the line. The organization has historically proven impotent in the face of these challenges, but if ever there's a time for them to grow a spine it's now. A nuclear equipped Iran is the greatest threat to peace the world has ever faced. No, that's not being a sensationalist, it's being realistic. A nuclear equipped Iran guarantees war with Israel - a war that would involve all of the Middle East. The likelihood of that being a nuclear conflict is extremely high. It's a war Israel cannot afford to lose and they will most certainly take ever measure to see that they prevail. Such a war will certainly involve the US and our allies. It may well involve Russia, though which side they'd be on is anyone's guess.
So where is the UN in all this? It's been months since the UN addressed the issue and there are no sanctions scheduled for debate. They've been conspicuously silent. Again, the stumbling block is Russia. What needs to happen immediately is clear. Sanctions including the threat of military action must be introduced - and approved - in the UN Security Council immediately. The US must begin Predator overflights of Iran's key military installations. Iran doesn't have the ability to hit the Predators and it will send a stern warning that military action is imminent. Our B52 and B2 bombers are already forward deployed in Diego Garcia, however it would be worthwhile to make a public show of their readiness. Finally, US troops should be positioned near the Iranian borders both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The only way to convince Iran to halt their nuclear activities is to convince them military action is imminent. Until they believe that, they will continue to defy the UN and the IAEA. Every day we do nothing brings us that much closer to war. It's time to convince Iran that we're serious.
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