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Security Council Stalemate as Iran Forges Ahead

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Wednesday that Russia is in no rush to gain any resolution from the Security Council regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Churkin said, “We are not in a rush at all. We do not want to ambush Iran in any way. We’re very much in a negotiating political mode. We do not want to dictate things to Iran.”

This struck a decidedly different tone than the United States’ UN Ambassador, John Bolton, who said he expected to reach a resolution from the Security Council by the end of the week. While acknowledging that meetings earlier in the week “kind of fizzled because the Russians and the Chinese really weren’t prepared to discuss the substance,” he said that he was still hopeful that a resolution could be reached by the end of this week, adding that “we don’t see that there should be major objections to that.”

Ambassador Bolton may be more optimistic than most, considering that the Security Council never moves faster than the slowest veto-wielding permanent member. Neither China nor Russia appears willing to move much at all. While both have made statements that Iran should cease all enrichment activities, neither supports sanctions against the Iranian regime.

While Ambassador Bolton assured that any resolution would “require Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing activities,” considering Russian and Chinese refusal to attach that language to any enforcement measures, it would require a major concession on ether side to reach an agreement by the end of this week.

On the Sino-Russian reluctance, Bolton described the impasse by saying, “What we have not reached agreement on is the precise formulation of the words that will do that (enforce compliance).” Russia and China are both interested in curtailing American influence and China seeks to protect their energy trade with Tehran. Because of these interests, many believe that any UN Security Council resolution will come either too weak and watered down or too late to make a difference.

From Tehran, Iranian state-run media reports that the Iranian Majlis is ready to consider withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This could be considered somewhat disingenuous, coming from a country that has gained much of its nuclear technology through illegal proliferation and has all but promised to proliferate their developed nuclear technology to other Muslim nations.

For his part, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad fanned the flames of conflict in addressing the ‘Basiji scientists group’ at an eastern Iran university. Referring to the conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Ahmadinejad bellowed, “The Zionists themselves have realized that they have launched a risky move and are aware that the flame of the fury of the regional states will set them ablaze.”

But even former Iranian president Rafsanjani acknowledged that the ‘fury of the regional states’ was sorely lacking. He condemned regional Islamic regimes for their silence and lack of support. Asked Rafsanjani, “How is it possible that a Muslim country is attacked and destroyed while others look on in comfort? Today the Zionists are attacking Lebanon with all kinds of modern weapons. How can the Islamic world, which is committed to Quranic precepts, remain indifferent and simply witness?”

But Ahmadinejad went on, possibly telegraphing a coming nuclear announcement, saying, “The day on which the regional people will rejoice will definitely come soon and the world is standing on the threshold of great development and the Muslims are expected to overcome their aggressive enemies.”

Iran has set August 22nd as the date it will formally respond to the P5+1 proposal which seeks to exchange Iran’s nuclear enrichment program for Western nuclear reactors and lifted sanctions put in place by the United States over terrorism activities. August 22nd corresponds this year with the Hijra date of Lailat al-Israa, when the Prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven in the Miraj. It also corresponds with a planned Shi’a pilgrimage to the well of the 12th Imam at the Jamkaram Mosque, just outside the holy city of Qom.

With the seeming disinterest coming from the Russians and the Chinese, reaching an agreement on a Security Council resolution against Iran complete with firm enforcement measures seems unlikely to be produced even by that date.