US Gathering Post-Security Council Coalition on Iran
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns indicated that the United States is preparing to gather a coalition against Iran in expectations that, even with a referral to the UN Security Council, its review of the Iranian nuclear dossier will generate little punitive or preventative measures of substance with both permanent members Russia and China adamantly opposed to any imposition of sanctions on Iran.
Undersecretary Burns said, “So in order to get the attention of the Iranians and convince them that they’ve got to roll back, you might have to arrange a coalition of countries - and I don’t know if Russia and China will be part of that - that would apply targeted sanctions.”
This is a clear indication of both the United States’ lack of confidence in the Security Council and its determination to prevent Iran’s nuclear program from progressing unchallenged. This determination was underscored today by Vice President Dick Cheney, who warned Iran of ‘meaningful consequences’ if it did not stop it’s nuclear sprint. “The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences,” Vice President Cheney said. He followed those words with an even stronger message, saying, “For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table,” he said. “We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
After meetings in Washington between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Russian representative denied yesterdays reports that Russia had made a compromise offer to Iran regarding future enrichment, suggesting that the only offer of the day was that of Iran’s offer to suspend ‘industrial-scale enrichment’ for two years in exchange for the ability to continue enrichment research.
Secretary of State Rice restated the American resolve on the Iranian nuclear issue, also offering little sign of confidence in the Security Council’s potential action. In regards to any enrichment compromise with Iran, she asserted, “The United States has been very clear: the enrichment and reprocessing on Iranian soil is not acceptable.”
White House spokesman Scott McClellan spelled out in plain language that the issue is less about the technology or even nuclear weapons, and squarely about the nature of the Iranian regime that seeks them with such determination. “It hid its nuclear activities for two decades from the international community. It has refused to comply with its international obligations. This is about the regime and its behavior. That’s what this is about and that’s what our focus is,” McClellan told reporters at a White House press conference.
Iran’s deception is borne out clearly in the words of Iran’s former head nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, when he said in a closed-door meeting, “When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Tehran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site … In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan.”
Isfahan is the uranium conversion plant where Iran removed the IAEA’s nuclear seals in August 2005. This was later followed in January 2006 by Iran’s removal of IAEA seals from the underground Natanz facility’s enrichment equipment, the next step in the nuclear fuel cycle.
The pattern is clearly evident and there is little room for debate about the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The United States is wise to begin pursuing an alternate plan outside the divided United Nations Security Council.