Iran Declares Security Council Ineffective
With two days of talks between Iran’s Ari Larijani and the EU’s Javier Solana ending Thursday with no progress, the Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki declared early Friday what has been whispered but rarely spoken aloud in Western diplomatic circles. Appearing on Iranian state-run television, Mottaki said, “There is no reason or logic to suspending nuclear activities. The foreigners have experienced that using the language of threats and referring (Iran) to the Security Council is ineffective and there is now no option but to hold talks.”
From other sources, some details of the two-day talks have emerged, most of them troubling. Frustrating those who have grown tired of ‘talks about talks’ under the guise of actual negotiations working toward a solution, the EU’s Solana said that “some important progress on the elements relating to how the potential negotiations can take place.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shed light on how any such negotiations can take place. He said of a halt to enrichment operations as reported back by Iran’s Ari Larijani, “Then they reached a point that they asked for even just a one-day halt. We said we won’t do it.” This presents itself as confirmation that Iran’s position remains that they seek the process of negotiations but will not compromise. The world appears resigned to accepting such conditions.
While the process subscribed to by the European Union through Javier Solana has been criticized widely as playing into the Iranian strategy of delay and division, even the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared ready to dismiss sanctions that would have the harshest impact on Iran: Sanctions against their import of gasoline, as the Iranians lack adequate indigenous refinery capacity to satisfy domestic demand. Rice cites fears of isolating the Iranian public from the West rather than from the mullah regime. This after the US Congress earlier this year reduced the amount of proposed funding in the Iran Freedom Support Act to support those same Iranian civilians from $75 million to merely $50 million.
For their part, the US House of Representatives approved an Iran sanctions bill Thursday, with the US Senate expected to follow. The current bill, formerly known as the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ISLA), is apparently the result of “intense consultations with the Bush administration” and bans groups and companies from participating in Iranian oil development as well as any industries and technologies that could lend direct or indirect assistance to Iran’s development of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons or “destabilizing numbers and types of advanced conventional weapons.” While the effort is to be applauded, the effect on the Iranian regime remains questionable.
The United States Treasury Department is also seeking to apply pressure to the Iranian regime by applying unilateral sanctions to international funds transfers for the state sponsor of terrorism and soliciting cooperation from other nations. The Treasury Department’s genuine attempts at doing what is within their power is doubted in its potential effectiveness. Says Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Roger Leeds, speaking to the porous nature of the disparate international finance systems, “It’s so easy to transfer funds around the world without going through some of the major financial institutions. It can be a pain in the neck for the Iranians, it will make their life miserable, but it won’t keep them from transferring funds.”
While each effort is also to be applauded, they are collectively an example of an inconsistent patchwork of policy brought on by the lack of Western unity with regard to the Iranian nuclear crisis, saying nothing of the seemingly sidelined immediate crisis of terrorism sponsorship.