Saturday, February 04, 2006

Iranian Nuclear Sabres Rattle

Iran's decision to resume uraniam enrichment is precisely what it threatened before the IAEA Board meeting last week. In a letter dated February 2, 2006, Iran firmly requested that the case not be submitted to the Security Council. It included the threat that "I am afraid to warn that if the interlocutors of Iran want to put pressure on the [IAEA] Board to report the issue to the UN Security Council and this pressure be affective, and the [Security] Council would be involved in any way with the Iranian peaceful nuclear activities, it would be the final blow to the confidence of the Islamic Republic of Iran and will totally destroy it."

The threat was issued with the expectation that the IAEA would back down. It did not. To its credit, the IAEA Board displayed surprising conviction with a vote of 27-3 to refer the matter to the Security Council. (The "yes" votes included two Muslim nations, Egypt and Yemen; the "no" votes were Cuba, Syria, and Venezuela; the five abstensions were Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya, and South Africa). The full text of the IAEA Resolution referring the matter to the Security Council is available here.

It appears that Nobel Peace Laureate Al Baradei is backing up his lofty Nobel words with tough deeds. Here is what he stated in his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture only a few weeks ago: "[W]e must ensure – absolutely – that no more countries acquire these deadly weapons... Are these goals realistic and within reach? I do believe they are. But then three steps are urgently required. First, keep nuclear and radiological material out of the hands of extremist groups.... Second, tighten control over the operations for producing the nuclear material that could be used in weapons.... Third, accelerate disarmament efforts. "

We now have a nuclear crisis on our hands. But better to have a crisis with Iran than a crisis of confidence within the IAEA.
UPDATE: There is an interesting insight from Hoder who is suggesting that the Iranian people do not have the stomach for this fight and that Ahmadinejad is pushing his agenda in poor, remote villages because they "can't mobilize enough people in Tehran who'll be willing to show any support for this man."

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