Monday, January 09, 2006

Bad News for Nuclear Proliferation

Bad news on two fronts in the fight against nuclear proliferation. Iran has declared that it is ready to resume research on uranium enrichment, while North Korea has announced that it sees no reason to return to the six-nation talks in light of US sanctions on businessed believed to be participating in money laundering, counterfeiting, and helping fund the nuclear program. While both situations are troubling for a variety of reasons, it seems to me that Iran is a much greater threat to international security than is North Korea. North Korea has few, if any, documented ties to international terrorist groups, the US has a much greater forward-based military presence in Asia to provide deterrence, and China exerts a fair amount of control over North Korea and certainly does not want to see the DPRK "unleashed." Certainly, it would be better if North Korea does not have nukes, but I see Iran as the more pressing problem.

Not that I know what to do about Iran. It's possible that Russia will support Security Council sanctions, but it's hard to know what Russia will do, and I'm skeptical of the ability of sanctions to be effective. There's been talk of Israel conducing an airstrike a la Osiraq, but I can't believe that Iran hasn't hardened its facilities or even buried them. Even though the EU is talking tough right now, they probably wouldn't support military action, and the US is in no shape to take on a third theater of operations. I'm hopeful that, in the long term, demographic and political pressures within Iran will end the rule of the mullahs, but that's off in the future, and doesn't resolve the current problem. Any ideas on how the international community can deal with Iran's nuclear program?

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