The latest report on Iranfrom the International Atomic Energy Agency, circulated to diplomatsin Vienna on Tuesday, shows once again that Iran has failed to complywith the demands of the international community, as expressed by theUnited Nations Security Council.
The IAEA reportdocumented that Iran was continuing to enrich uranium on alarge-scale in defiance of UN Security Council resolution 1696. Italso said that IAEA inspectors had found stashes of highly-enricheduranium (HEU) and plutonium hidden at an Iranian nuclear wastesite.
Both materials are directlyuseful in building atomic weapons but cannot be used in Iran’sdeclared nuclear power program. (Download a PDF file of the completereport here).
UN Security Councilresolution 1696, passed on July 31, gave Iran until the end of lastAugust to suspend all enrichment and reprocessing-related activitiesin a verifiable manner. If Iran complied, the resolution opened thepossibility of economic aid and technology assistance. But if Iranfailed to comply, it called for economic and diplomaticsanctions.
Nearly three monthshave passed since that deadline. Instead of complying, Iran’sleaders have chosen open defiance – bolstered in no small wayby the support they have received from Russia, China, and IAEASecretary General Mohammad ElBaradei, whose rosy pronouncements ofPeace in Our Time would be comic if the prospect of a nuclear-armedIran were not so real.
In their latest replyto polite questions from Mr. ElBaradei’s IAEA, the Iranianssaid they have no intention of cooperating further with the Agencyuntil “the nuclear dossier is returned back in full in theframework of the Agency.”
Translated intoBrooklyn English: they are flipping us the bird.
But just in case weweren’t able or willing to separate out this message from thediplomatic cotton candy, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did usall a favor by clarifyinghis regime's intentions in remarkson Tuesday.
“I'm very hopefulthat we will be able to hold the big celebration of Iran's fullnuclearization in the current year,” he said. (The Persiancalendar year ends on March 20.)
“Initially, they(the U.S. and its allies) were very angry,” Ahmadinejad said. “Today,they have finally agreed to live with a nuclear Iran, with an Iranpossessing (the whole) nuclear fuel cycle.”
Nuclear experts in theUnited States, Israel, and Europe agree that mastery of the nuclearfuel cycle will give Iran the ability to make nuclear weaponsvirtually unimpeded by international restraints. No wonderAhmadinejad is so happy, and no wonder he continues to defy the IAEA.Until now, no one has made Iran pay a price for its defiance.
On Monday, IsraeliPrime Minister Ehud Olmert visited with President George W. Bush inthe Oval Office. Their discussions focused on Iran’s nuclearweapons program.
Bush told Olmert thatthe world must isolate Iran until it “gives up its nuclearambitions.” Olmert repeated Israel’s assessment thatTehran’s goal is to “wipe Israel off the map,” asIranian leaders have repeatedly stated.
So here we are again,doing the same old kabuki dance. The United States, Israel, and mostof Europe agree that Iran can not, must not be allowed to developnuclear weapons; and Iran simply ignores us and continues down thenuclear path.
How long can wetolerate Iran’s defiance of a very clear UN Security Councildeadline? If there is no enforcement of those deadlines, does a UNSecurity Council threat mean anything at all?
These are questions wefaced just four years ago in deliberating Saddam Hussein’sdefiance of 16 UN Security Councilresolutions.
Inhis address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 12,2002,President Bush notedthat Iraq had “answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decadeof defiance.”
The United Nations andthe world “faces a test,” he said then. “AreSecurity Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or castaside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purposeof its founding, or will it be irrelevant?”
We face precisely thosesame questions today when it comes toIran.
What will it be, Mr.President? Does the United States mean business? Does the UnitedNations mean anything? Will free nations stand up to tyrannies openlyseeking to acquire nuclear weapons to hold their enemies hostage?
Former Israeli PrimeMinister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Tuesday what he told methis past summer in Israel, during Iran’s proxy war to holdIsrael’s civilian population hostage to Hezbollah missileattacks.
“It’s 1938,and Iran is Germany,” Netanyahusaid, “andIran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.”
“Believe him andstop him,” Netanyahu added, speaking of Ahmadinejad. “Thisis what we must do. Everything else pales before this.”
Responding to angryIsrael civilians who had lived in bomb shelters for three weeks thissummer, Netanyahu told me he thought Israel must“finishthe job”against Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
His successor asIsraeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, ignored his advice.
Tehran's leaders arebetting that the United States fears Iran’s long reach, that wefear Iran’s ability to inflict pain on U.S. forces in Iraq, andon U.S. allies elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe throughterrorist proxies and missile attacks.
If Iran has succeededin deterring the United States of America even before it has acquirednuclear weapons, what kind of reach will they have once they canfield a nuclear arsenal?
We still have optionsother than a military strike. As I have advocated manytimes in this space,I believe our bestoption is to develop a comprehensive plan to help the Iranian peopleto get rid of this wretched regime, before it causes more harm tothem, to Iran’s neighbors, and to the world at large.
But the one option wedo not have is to do nothing.
The nuclear clock isticking, as Ahmadinejad himself now admits.
It's your move, Mr.President.