Security Council Slow but Progressing on Iran
If there has been anything encouraging regarding the Iranian nuclear crisis in the past weeks and months, it was that US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, ended last week confident that the UN Security Council would find a way to ‘send a strong message to Iran’. From another source, including the American Secretary of State and President, this would be expected diplo-speak. But the American Ambassador to the United Nations is not prone to use diplo-speak. So when he says such a thing, it carries far more weight than from another source.
The Security Council formally took up the Iranian dossier and indeed ended the Friday session with no tangible gains. But, as foretold by Bolton, progress was indeed afoot. Today, after a weekend of informal discussions and coffee table wrangling, six of the 15 members of the Security Council are meeting outside the confines of the UN body to hammer out some form of agreement worked around the framework of the British-French proposal. The proposal originally set forth a 14-day window for Iran to come into full compliance with IAEA demands, including a halt to all enrichment operations. Left unspecified were specific consequences. Russia and China originally balked at the idea, but that there has been no vociferous opposition since the initial response coupled with a quiet weekend and today’s outside talks are signs that Bolton’s sense of UNSC resolve may have been well founded.
Ambassador Emyr Jones Perry of Britain said on Friday, “I think that we are very close to agreement, at least for the overwhelming majority of the council members.” That despite Russian objections.
Tehran was working at a fevered pitch to gather Arab allies, shoring up old relationships and offering favorable trade, tourism and other relations to seemingly any and all Arab states who would throw their lot with Iran on the nuclear issue. From Syria to Tunisia to Egypt, Iran rubbed elbows and traded smiles with all who would entertain them.
But some states remained unimpressed, most notably the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. The UAE disputes the Iranian possession of several Persian Gulf islands – islands that could become pivotal in a security crisis – and Jordan’s King Abdullah warned of an encroaching Iran. Said Jordan’s pragmatic King Abdullah, “My concern is political, not religious — revolving around Iran, Iran’s political involvement inside Iraq, its relation with Syria and Hezbollah and the strengthening of this political-strategic alliance. This would create a scenario where you have these four — Iran, Iran-influenced Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah — [with] a strategic objective that could create a major conflict.”
Meanwhile, General George Casey said that he did not harbor much confidence in the coming American-Iranian talks regarding Iraq. He noted, “They’re playing, I think, a very delicate balancing act. On the one hand, they want a stable neighbor. On the other hand, I don’t believe they want to see us succeed here.” Demonstrating his doubts, he said that the Iranian influx of IEDs and other weapons and fighters simply has to stop.
Regardless, to the degree that the world remains polarized regarding the Iranian crisis, many of those supporting Iran do so clearly and simply out of distaste for anything American, especially the current sitting president. In Tehran, a religious scholar denounced President Bush for his aggression against Iran and the Arab world and called the Iran-US conflict a war between good and evil. He was a ‘researcher and writer on theological topics’…from Spain.