Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, announced today that sanctions placed last month on Iran for its continued violations of UN and IAEA rules are a bad idea. The sanctions, imposed by the UN Security Council banned transfers of sensitive nuclear materials and know-how to Iran and established a 60-day deadline for Iran to halt nuclear fuel work or else face the possibility of increased punishment. However, according to ElBaradei "I don't think sanctions will resolve the issue. I think sanctions, in my view, could lead to escalation on both sides."
This is an absolute disgrace and amounts to little more than appeasement. Iran's violations of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations are numerous and well-documented. All five members of the UN Security Council supported the sanctions, which is as rare as a political event can be. The five UNSC members along with Germany have long been offering a generous incentive package to Iran on the condition that it suspends its uranium enrichment program. And yet ElBaradei sees fit to undermine the UN by drawing some kind of moral equivalency in the two positions: "My worry right now is that each side is sticking to their gun if you like. The international community is sticking to their gun, saying 'sanctions or bust'. Iran is saying 'nuclear enrichment capability or bust'." Meanwhile, ElBaradei has openly agreed with John Negroponte, the former head of US National Intelligence and currently awaiting confirmation as Deputy Secretary of State, that Iran will likely be capable of producing a nuclear weapon in 4-7 years.
Peace is not about giving in. As Europe learned in the 1930s, it's not about appeasing rogue states (and no, I'm not comparing Iran to Nazi Germany). Sometimes the cause of peace requires making judgments about good and bad, right and wrong. Sometimes it even requires going to war. ElBaradei's comments and subversion of the UN do not contribute to peace. Rather, they create incentives for Iran to continue to ignore the unanimous will of the international community. I don't believe that the UN will necessarily be able to solve this crisis. In fact, it may not be possible to prevent Iran from proliferating. But when the UN can unite behind something it should be given a chance to work. If the UN is to have any meaning in maintaining international peace and security, it must become tougher and more willing and capable of implementing sanctions on those that violate the will of the international community. ElBaradei is simply ensuring the UN continues to be a weak institution doomed to be ignored by those it seeks to restrain. One can only wish that his Nobel Peace Prize could be revoked.