U-turns on Iran
Finally, Europe is ready to step up sanctions.
June 18, 2008
Stonewalling. Obfuscation. Threats. Two years of Iranian intransigence have
removed any doubt that the leadership in Tehran is determined to develop the
technology for a nuclear bomb — if not the weapons themselves — as quickly
as possible. And after more than two years of giving Iran the benefit of
every doubt, and last weekend sweetening
<http://www.globalse curity.org/ wmd/library/ news/iran/ 2008/iran- 080615-irna03
.htm> their offer of incentives if it agreed to suspend nuclear enrichment,
the European Union and Britain announced Monday that they will at last
impose tougher financial sanctions.
Of course, the sanctions are mainly symbolic, and Iran will find ways to
circumvent them. But that does not make them any less important politically.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been able to capitalize on the global
unpopularity of President Bush, dismissing legitimate international concerns
about Iran’s nuclear intentions as an attempt by a warmongering,
intelligence- cooking enemy to subjugate and humiliate another Muslim nation.
But Ahmadinejad will have a harder time making the case that Britain’s Labor
prime minister, Gordon Brown, and the European Union are the lap dogs of the
lame-duck U.S. president.
What prompted this belated European action? Among other things, a damning
report from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Bush’s longtime nemesis,
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, unexpectedly threw up his hands
this month and declared that Iran had
<http://www.globalse curity.org/ wmd/library/ news/iran/ 2008/iran- 080602-rianov
osti01.htm> not provided sufficient information to refute the West’s
allegations about an Iranian nuclear program. ElBaradei’s mistrust of the
Bush administration is legendary, so insiders were startled to see that he
has finally stopped worrying so much about U.S. military action against Iran
and started worrying more about Iran actually getting a nuclear bomb.
ElBaradei’s U-turn follows an about-face by the Bush administration, which,
after several years of declining to share its much-maligned intelligence
with the IAEA, finally handed the agency a dossier on what Iran was actually
up to. ElBaradei, who had also been blindsided by the Israeli allegation
that Syria had been building a secret nuclear plant about which the U.N.
nuclear watchdog knew nothing, must have realized that the agency’s
credibility — and his own — would be seriously damaged if he continued to
remain neutral in the face of mounting evidence of an Iranian weapons
Iran may proceed to make bombs despite British and European opprobrium, and
Russia and China may continue to block stronger action by the U.N. Security
Council. The Western powers must keep working to raise the political cost
for such defiance. And if Iran cannot divide Europe from America, it will
find it harder to use a nuclear arsenal to gain the regional power it so