Published: Jun 11, 2010
The fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program is misconceived and will very probably turn out to be a serious error.
The Russians and the Chinese will come to regret their albeit reluctant backing of Washington’s confrontational policy.
What they have done is sign up to the long-standing US hypocrisy which decries Iran’s suspected push to acquire nuclear weapons while totally ignoring that Israel is already a nuclear power. The ironic difference is that, while Iran is in breach of its commitments made when it signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel is not, for the simple reason that it has never signed the document. The existence of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and Washington’s determination to ignore it completely undermine any drive to persuade the Iranians to eschew any atomic weapons program themselves. Yet the Obama administration cannot, or will not, recognize how fatally this damages its arguments against Iran.
And the Russians and Chinese have allowed themselves to be suckered into a flawed confrontation with the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
What is worse is that the UN Security Council’s imposition of a new round of sanctions cuts across the efforts of Brazil and Turkey to provide Teheran with an honorable way out of the impasse. By agreeing in principle to take spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing, these two countries could have produced a settlement that was acceptable to all parties. However, perhaps because the solution was not invented in Washington, the Americans chose to ignore it and press on with their new sanctions call.
Then there is the extreme likelihood that these latest sanctions will not work but, as with Iraq, will actually damage ordinary Iranians. Ahmadinejad and his people have long expected these latest restrictions and will have made provisions to circumvent them where necessary. They will divert whatever national resources they need away from ordinary people to their own purposes. However, more sinisterly, they will almost certainly use the heightened tension to beef up their security clampdown on opposition leaders and supporters. Dissenting voices within the country will seem ever more like treason and will be dealt with harshly. Among those who will be muzzled will be the counselors of moderation who, while supporting the regime, doubt the wisdom of its unfettered responses to Washington’s continuing provocative behavior.
Ahmadinejad is not noted for mincing his words, and his riposte to the new sanctions was entirely predictable. Given the certainty that he would react with more anger and bombast, it is incredible that the Security Council, with the notable exceptions of Brazil and Turkey, succumbed to American pressure. The Russians or Chinese might have been expected to insist that the price of their support would be the simultaneous tabling of the issue of Israel’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Unfortunately, the Israelis may now see the silence of Moscow and Beijing as a green light to launch a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, the consequences of which are too terrible to imagine. A golden opportunity to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons has been thrown away. Apparently, what Washington has in mind when it talks of a nuclear-free Middle East is a Middle East in which there is only one nuclear power.
© 2010 Arab News