The Non-Deadline: Redrawing Lines In The Sand
While much was made over Iran’s self-imposed August 22 deadline to respond to the nuclear incentives deal offered by the United Nations Security Council’s ‘Permanent Five’ members and Germany, the real deadline imposed by the UNSC has been today, August 31, 2006. But, as has been noted over the period since Iran’s August 22 ‘multifaceted response’, that ‘deadline’ has been steadily losing its meaning. In fact, it could be plausibly suggested that, apparently sans consequences, it is no longer even a deadline at all.
Iran’s confident defiance is clear, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated the adopted Iranian mantra of nuclear rights saying, “The Iranian nation will not succumb to bullying, invasion and the violation of its rights.” The source of Iran’s confidence is the clear lack of Western resolve that is adroitly exploited by a clever Iranian regime.
China, Russia and France are expressing reluctance to impose sanctions on Iran regardless of any deadline agreed to within the Security Council. Seemingly erasing the meaning of a deadline, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Wang Guangya, said yesterday of Iran’s 11th hour response offered last week, “It has some ‘positive elements’ which we must study carefully.”
Traditional Western allies outside the ‘Permanent Five’ are also displaying a withering resolve as even Italy is showing signs of floundering on the issue. Said Italy’s Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema, “If Iran is looking to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, it is not only legitimate, but can also clear the way for cooperation.”
But the difference between a civilian nuclear program and a military nuclear program are not in design or equipment differences, but merely what the output is used for. That Iran’s military is already in firm control of the Iranian nuclear program is a clear indicator of purpose. Italy’s foreign minister and others must therefore put their trust in an Iranian regime that is the world’s premiere state sponsor of terrorism. Though rarely spoken verbatim, the current conflict with Iran revolves not around materials or technology, but in fact trust.
Iran’s exploitation of differences among a conflict averse West, including today’s conveniently timed release of a Canadian-Iranian dissident from an Iran prison, continues to serve to diminish the effective meaning of today’s ‘deadline’ set by the Security Council.
While the United States has hoped for the deadline to be just that - a deadline - it remains clear that it was never to be recognized as such by other members of the Security Council. Russia is only now (again) ‘getting ready for’ talks on Iran, with a date for such talks not even yet determined on this, Iran’s so-called ‘deadline.’ Said a Russian source, “Preparatory work for the meeting of political directors of the sextet’s foreign ministries is underway. The meeting will be held, but its time and place are yet to be specified.”
So, while some headlines today - such as that from the Asia Times which reads “Time’s up for Iran on UN’s nuclear clock” - will suggest that today is the day that the Iranian nuclear program crosses a meaningful international threshold, clearly it will not.
Simply stated, there effectively is no deadline for Iranian compliance, as each time Iran crosses the line drawn in the sand without the desired answer in hand, the West merely redraws the line farther from the present, unprepared to match the Iranian regime’s will.