Russia and China Refuse Strong Statement on Iran
With the Iranian nuclear dossier now firmly in the hands of a convened United Nations Security Council, the Council displayed on Monday that its hands are far from firm. Surprising no one, the first day of discussion ended with Russia and China refusing to agree to a strongly worded statement to Iran, much less sanctions, on its largely clandestine nuclear program. Wang Guangya, China’s Ambassador, said, “I think that we want a constructive statement. I think they (US, France & Germany) want to be too tough.” A constructive statement by this definition would fall short of any sanctions and direct language challenging Iran to abandon the enrichment process.
Yet, seemingly contradicting the Russian refusal at the UN Security Council deliberations, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blasted Iran’s behavior during the negotiations process, stating bluntly, “Iran is absolutely no help to those who want to find peaceful ways to solve this problem.”
To the optimist, Russia’s actions at the Security Council Monday appear to be those of an economically depressed country trying desperately to find a way to not impose sanctions on a major trading partner, frustrated and surely growing short of patience.
To the pessimist, however, it is yet another tangible byproduct of the Sino-Russian quasi pact and further evidence that the UN is too polarized and ineffective to achieve the meaningful resolutions it was founded to facilitate. The pessimist also notes that Iran will begin building their own nuclear plants within three to six months, fully independent of foreign assistance.
Meanwhile, the on-again-off-again talks between Iran and Russia are apparently on again. Within the same day, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign minstry, Hamid Reza Asefi, declared once more that any Russian proposal that does not include enrichment in Iran is dead. Yet, within twenty-four hours of that statement, talks of the same are on again, albeit behind closed doors and unconfirmed by either side.
Regarding the back and forth nature of Iranian statements and actions, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said, “It shouldn’t come as any surprise to anybody that the Iranians would love to talk further. They’ve loved talking for the last four years and they’ll talk for as long as they can as they master the technical difficulties they’ve encountered in the uranium enrichment process.”
Possibly, the talks could be including discussions of an international consortium of sorts running Iran’s facilities on Iranian soil for them. Mansoor Ijaz discussed this as a middle ground solution Monday as one of four approaches to dealing with Iran highlighted by the Christian Science Monitor. [For an excellent look at some of the particulars of the consortium approach, both strengths and potential weaknesses, read The Arms Control Wonk here and here and be sure to read the comments.]
The consortium approach would indeed test the Iranians’ sincerity in their claims to only want nuclear power. However, perhaps not. Though reverse engineering of the advanced centrifuges in any such plant(s) by Iranians (flatly described as ‘non-trivial information’ in an excellent comment at Arms Control Wonk) and the very real possibility that the Iranians could just boot everyone and commandeer the facility(s) alone are mentioned, it must also be considered that this addresses only the known Iranian facilities. This is the greatest weakness in the consortium approach. To deny that there is, to some level, a parallel clandestine nuclear program is unwise and naive. A consortium addresses none of this.
What is not known is more troubling than what is known regarding their nuclear program.
And this brings the issue back to Iran’s oft repeated right to nuclear technology. No one begrudges Iran nuclear power. Further, the world would probably not fall out of its collective chair if Iran were to develop a nuclear weapon…except for the regime that would control it.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday, “There will be no peace and tranquility in the region as long as the Zionist regime continues to exist.” He later added regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue, “If we insist on our right stances and act properly, all the relations and equations will change.”
At first glance, that seems to take the sting off his original sentence. However, considering Iran’s ‘right stances’ include funding and arming Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and Hamas, the sting remains.
Iran is the puppet master for international terrorism. This is where the problem lies, not with nuclear power or even necessarily nuclear weapons, per se. Rather, it is the nature of the regime, its disposition and its bloodlust to eliminate Israel, primarily by pulling the strings that keep the fight going.