Sunday, October 16, 2005

Moving Along the Axis

The US once again appears to have been thwarted in its attempt to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capabilities of any kind, peaceful or no. Although the US regime has backed off somewhat from its original white hot approach and has allowed Europe to negotiate with Iran in the hopes of finding a diplomatic solution, Iran's insistence that it has a right to nuclear development as a sovereign nation has basically brought the diplomatic approach to a standstill.

Europe and the US now want the matter referred to the UN for possible sanctions, so Secretary of State Rice flew to Russia to get approval for such a referral. Unfortunately, according to the New York Times, she did not meet with success.

Russia's leaders told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday that they did not support sending the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council, and they reaffirmed their view that Iran had the legal right to enrich uranium. ...

Still, Ms. Rice, speaking to reporters later, made it clear that the United States and its European allies would still refer Iran to the Security Council, for admonishment or sanctions, if it did not shut down its nuclear fuel reprocessing program. But with Russia opposed, the prospects in the Council look bleak, as Russia holds a veto. "We do not agree that this matter should be sent to the Security Council," said Sergei Kislyak, the deputy foreign minister.

Iran says it needs to process nuclear fuel for civilian nuclear-power stations. But Washington and its European allies argue that Iran wants the fuel for nuclear weapons.

Ms. Rice said for the first time on Saturday that Washington might not push for a vote on a referral during the November meeting, suggesting that the United States may not have the votes it needs to win a second vote on the agency's board. Some members of the board who voted in favor of last month's resolution are rotating off the board. Among those rotating on in their place are Belarus, Cuba and Syria, three nations that are unlikely to support the American position.

Officials said the vote could also be postponed if Iran appeared to be moving toward compliance with the board's demands.

"There will be a referral," Ms. Rice said, but "we're going to keep the referral option alive at a time of our choosing."

Even as an opponent of the current US regime, I have to admit that this is a very complicated situation and that I appreciate the US using diplomacy and its allies in the matter before going off for another military misadventure along the "Axis of Evil." Clearly, Iran does have the right to develop peaceful nuclear capabilities, i.e. nuclear power plants. However, Iran also has fairly substantial oil and natural gas reserves, so, at least in the short run, nuclear power plants do not seem necessary. I think it probable that Iran does in fact intend to develop nuclear weapons, which certainly does not make for any kind of real stability in the Middle East.

Still, I can certainly understand Iran's desire for those weapons. That Israel has such weapons is an open secret. That the US continues to see Iran (a member of the previously mentioned "Axis of Evil")as a threat is not even a secret. With US forces right next door in Iraq, Iran has every reason to be nervous. It is this latter point, however, that might very well be the key to resolving the issue.

Because Iran has close ties to the majority Shia in Iraq, the two nations have become very close since the removal of Saddam Hussein. It is clearly in Iran's interest to have a stable and friendly neighbor. I believe the withdrawal of US forces will be possible only with the engagement of Iran to support such a move, and I believe diplomatic efforts by the US in that direction will be absolutely necessary. It may be possible to join the two issues by making the same offer to Iran that Russia has made: assistance in developing nuclear power plants with the promise to take back spent nuclear fuel for a promise from Iran to assist in the development and training of Iraqi security forces and an agreement to provide Iranian security forces in the interim so that the US can begin disengaging its forces.

In the meantime, I think the US has no choice but to leave the current dispute with Iran with the IAEA and to continue supporting the European and Russian diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear issue.


Blogger ql said...

I think it is inevitable that Iraq and Iran will eventually be closely alligned. How this will impact the Kurds and the Sunnis is another matter. The Kurds want their own homeland, and surprise, surprise, it happens to be sitting on the richest oil fields in Iraq. No matter what kind of revenue sharing plan is worked out, this will always cause tensions. And of course, the Turks don't want the Kurds to have a homeland because it might give their own Kurdish minority some ideas.

The Sunnis have got nothing and will have nothing but their relationship to Saudi Arabia.

The region was fucked up before our invasion but containable. Now it is a powder keg and I expect it to explode at any moment.

5:52 AM  

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