Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Iran nuclear dispute

Today Cheney warned that the UN Security Council will impose ‘meaningful consequences’ on Iran if it continues to pursue uranium enrichment activities. The Bush administration also ended talks of compromise with Iran. This comes after nuclear scientists concluded it’s too risky to allow Iran any kind of flexibility in developing nuclear technologies. The Russian proposal would have called for a 7-9 year moratorium on industrial enriched uranium production, but with the compromise that Iran would be offered a joint venture w/ Russia on production as well as limited research and development after the moratorium. One analyst said it was like being a little bit pregnant…sooner or later you will have the baby. So the current view of the Bush admin and many other countries is that Iran shouldn’t be allowed any nuclear development rights.

There are some risks the US and Security Council take by hard-line positioning
-Iran is warning to inflict “harm and pain” if the SC takes measures
-As the world’s #4 oil provider, Iranian officials say they are reviewing oil export policy
-Fostering resentment by singling out Iran while similar technologies exist in India, Israel, and Pakistan

But, of course, Iran is inviting a hard-line response:
-It defied the Feb.4 IAEA resolution that called for ceased production
-Iran hid atomic research from the IAEA for 18 years
-Has called for the destruction of Israel
- Hostile toward talks of compromise, like the Russian proposal, because Iranians think it’s their right to have complete ability to develop nuclear technology

Iranian representatives have said they are still open to negotiation, but I seriously doubt this. Russia’s proposal seemed quite generous, and I think they would have accepted it if renewable energy sources were really their concern. Iran definitely needs better energy technology, but it seems that nuclear weapons are their end goal.

The risk of allowing Iranians to continue any kind of nuclear tech development outweight any risks listed above. There are other oil sources in the world, and the likelihood of Iran being able to inflict 'harm and pain' is low. Iran cannot obliterate Israel if it does not have the technology. Also, Iran is openly threatening Israel and indirectly threatening the US, so it is not wrong to "single out" Iran's nuclear program.

I think it is wise to raise the stakes and threaten Security Council action. However, the Council may not be able to take serious action, since Russia and China have expressed disapproval toward pursuing economic sanctions. It is hard to say now what kind of leverage the SC will have, but I think this is the best option at the time. It would be ideal to devise some kind of face-saving, behind-the-scenes approach that would allow Iran to back down quietly and gracefully. But I think the problem here is that Iran wants nuclear weapons, and that’s that. So the issue goes beyond saving face and requires international pressure, in whatever form that might take. Sorry for the vagueness on that point, but if I knew the answer I’d be on my way to Washington.

No comments: