Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let's Keep Talking (Nuclear Rope-a-Dope, Round #65)

By all accounts, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's weekend diplomatic mission to Iran was a failure. Despite Mr. Annan's efforts, Tehran has made it very clear that it has no plans to stop enrichment of uranium, a key step in developing nuclear weapons. And, for good measure, the Iranians held a highly-publicized dedication ceremony for their new heavy water plant near Khondab, just days before Annan arrived in Tehran. Translation: the Iranians aren't really worried about the prospect of sanctions over their refusal to comply with various U.N. resolutions regarding their nuclear program.

But that won't keep the two sides from continuing diplomatic conversations. Before he left Tehran, Mr. Annan extracted a vague promise from Adolph Jr. (err, Iranian President Ahmadinejad) on Iran's "preparedness and commitment to hold negotiations" on its nuclear program. In other words, don't get your hopes up, and don't expect anything approaching serious talks on the issue. But, there is that promise to talk, and (as we've pointed out before), the process means more to the U.N. and the State Department crowd than concrete, verifiable agreements.

If you have any doubts about the truth of that statement, consider the European reaction to recent developments in Iran. Barely 24 hours before Annan left Tehran, EU foreign ministers gave Iran another fornight to "clarify" its position on the nuclear issue, giving the regime even more wiggle room, and postponing any sort of decisive action on the matter. Little wonder that Iran doesn't take diplomatic efforts seriously, but they're more than willing to continue the process, since it buys more time for their nuclear scientists. It's the latest incarnation of the nuclear "rope-a-dope" strategy that Iran has been using for months, with considerable success. No reason to change that approach now, especially when the U.N. remains wedded solely to the diplomatic process.

In a WSJ editorial posted Sunday, Claudia Rosett recounts the absolute futility of U.N. efforts to reign in Tehran--and why those efforts will never bear fruit. As she reminds us, military force is probably the only viable means for denying Iran the bomb, and when it comes to that option, the U.S. will, once again, do most of the heavy lifting.

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