Wednesday, August 24, 2005

EU suspends Iran Nuke Talks

France announced that talks with Iran over their nuclear program have been suspended. It now appears that Britain, France, and Germany may seek UN sanctions against Iran for breaking the agreement reached in Paris over the suspension of uranium enrichment during the negotiations. (Boston.Com News: Europeans call off nuclear talks with Iran).

What should prove interesting is the tone of any UN sanctions should they actually be submitted. Without the threat of imminent military action, Iran will have no incentive to cease enrichment activities. If Israeli reports are at all accurate, Iran only needs to stall the rest of the world for about three years and the point will become moot. Given that Iraq was able to stall for twelve years, this should pose no real challenge to Iran.

Reports that enriched uranium found in centrifuge parts were not the result of Iran's program appear to embolden that nations strong stance against the west. In fact, media reports point to that finding as proof that Iran is not engaged in a weapons program. (Hindustan Times: Iran gets clean-chit in uranium controversy). All that report really means is they bought used equipment from Pakistan. Drawing any conclusion regarding Iran's intentions based on that report is little more than wishful-thinking.

A nuclear capable Iran is a threat to the West. It appears that even France and Germany can see that. What the west does about it is the only remaining question. A UN sanction is politically necessary, so that's the first step. What must be avoided, however, is the likely potential for a very weak statement by the UN, followed by a series of increasingly strong rhetoric. We saw that nonsense with Iraq, where we went through 17 resolutions (and the three negotiating with Iran wanted yet another resolution.) One resolution should suffice. The timetable for compliance also needs to be extremely short. Given what's at stake, we cannot afford to play the UN sanction game, and we certainly don't have time to hope economic sanctions will bring them in line.

We've seen this act before. The net result will be military strikes against the Iranian nuclear research facilities. The only real question left unanswered is how long we're going to dance with Iran and the UN, and how close we're going to let Iran come to producing a weapon before we take action. If we learn anything from history, we won't delay. But then, I'm betting we haven't quite learned that lesson yet.


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