Friday, April 21, 2006

We Want Proof

Efforts to reign in Iran's nuclear program through diplomacy suffered a serious, if not fatal setback today. A spokesman for Russia's foreign ministry said Moscow would support sanctions against Tehran only if it saw "hard evidence" that Iran's nuclear program was "not peaceful."

"We will only be able to talk about sanctions after we have concrete facts confirming that Iran is not exclusively involved in peaceful nuclear activities," said spokesman Mikhail Kamynin, in a statement published by the Itar-Tass news service. Seperately, a Russian national security official said that sanctions "did not figure" in Russia's agenda at this point.

Can we provide that level of proof? At this point, no. Iran claims its current uranium enrichment efforts are aimed at producing fuel for nuclear power plants, not creating the foundation for a nuclear weapon. And that explanation is entirely plausible, if extremely unlikely. That's the great thing about dual-use technology, which encompasses many of the processes used in developing weapons of mass destruction. Today's insecticide factory can be tomorrow's nerve gas plant. And that low-grade enrichment project in Iran could easily mushroom into a large-scale project to produce enough material for a bomb. Of course, at that point, Iran will simply claim that it needs more fuel for a planned "network" of nuclear power plants. And the mullahs' friends in Moscow and Beijing will simply nod their heads in agreement.

Call me an eternal pessimist, but I'd say that foreign ministry spokesman pretty much killed any hopes for a "diplomatic" solution to the Iranian nuclear problem. To get Russian support for sanctions, the UNSC must have unambiguous proof of non-peaceful nuclear efforts. Such evidence would be almost impossible to provide--and the Russians know it. So do we.

For good measure, Russia has also restated its intentions to deliver the SA-15 surface-to-air missile system to Tehran. That deal (initially reported last December) was confirmed earlier this week, although Iran's air defense system remains riddled with problems (see our recent post "Catching Up.").

With "friends" like the Russians, who needs enemies?

1 comment:

Dan M said...

The problem began when we allowed them a nuclear capacity in the first place. We never should have done that, especially when we knew that dual use danger you succinctly, and accurately described.

There are two ways to respond, to double down on this diplomatic dead end, or break free of the entire UN procedural framework.

GW should order our Air and Naval Air to begin aggressively overflying Iran. They will respond with their surface to air capacity, which will allow us the opportunity to destroy those defenses, prior to our main saturation strikes. Once Iran knows, and once Russian and China knows that our government is DEADLY serious about this threat, this might, just might force them to address the issue.

Once Iran knows that we are continuously overflying them, and have complete and absolute air dominance, that might check them. That might bring them to the table, that might delay their program.

Or it might see them respond with terror attacks. But those terror attacks will reveal the true nature of that regime, and provoke a wave of revulsion towards them. Thus BOLSTERING American support for the President's attempts to rid us from that nuclear nightmare.

If I had anything to do with it, I would order in those strikes. And simultaneously thereto, I would order saturation strikes on the Iranian leadership. The intent would be to throw all of Iran into one vast power struggle. That should paralyze somewhat the terror cells and the terror response the leadership had planned. But because they would be dead, would be unable to implement.

Query, are we at war with the mullahs. If the answer is yes, then why are we waiting for them to perfect their defenses, and their response plans.

I don't know what GW is waiting for. He needs to start dictating the pace of diplomatic and military engagement with the mullahs. They've been allowed the initiative for too long.

GW should have his staff put together about a 45 minute video/audio of all the kooky, genocidal statements from their leadership, going back the last decade easy. It should be the mullah's greatest hits, so to speak. And GW should introduce the video with a few short words. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to listen carefully to some of the most pathological, sick, crazed, weird, creepy and lunatic statements, that you've ever heard in your life." GW should simply allow the mullahs, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, to make the case for his actions. You see the mullahs have been making comments for years, and GW should simply compile them into one devastating video, which will provide the public support he needs to start truly ENGAGING the mullahs.

But imagination is in very short supply at the White House.