Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Referring Iran

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with wanna-be Germany, have agreed to report Iran to the Security Council in reference to its nuclear ambitions. Russia and China agreed, largely because the referral won't come until March at the earliest, leaving time for Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency demands or agree to the proposal to enrich uranium in Russia for use in Iranian power plants.

However, it is far from time to celebrate. First, a "reporting" to the Security Council is less strict than a "referral" for which the US was hoping. A "referral" brings the matter to the domain of the Security Council, while a "report" merely puts the issue on the agenda for the Security Council to consider (in essence, a referral skips one step and moves right to the consideration of punishment). Also, just because Russia and China agreed to report Iran, there is no guarantee that either would consent to sanctions or punishments. The US and the EU nations must continue to work on Russia and China, telling them that further participation in the western economic and political domains is contingent on their upholding international law and promoting international security by punishing Iran if Iran remains intransigent.

This is a positive step, but we are not yet at the endgame.

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