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August 12, 2005
We 'Won' ... Nothing

The Times of London makes a big deal about a favorable ruling yesterday from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which publicly supported the EU-3 in calling for Iran to stop its uranium processing in order to remain in compliance with the non-proliferation pact. Based on the lead, Times readers might believe this to be a significant victory, but the Iranians quickly demonstrated its hollow nature:

BRITAIN and its European allies won a diplomatic victory over Iran yesterday when the international community unanimously backed their resolution demanding that Tehran halt work at all its nuclear sites.

After three days of intense negotiations, the thirty-five member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supported a text proposed by Britain, France and Germany that expressed serious concern over Irans attempts to restart uranium processing.

The resolution called on Iran to halt uranium conversion work at its site near Isfahan, which was resumed this week. It also urged Tehran to maintain its freeze at other sites involved in the nuclear fuel cycle and asked Mohamad ElBaradei, the IAEA director, to report back on Irans compliance on September 3.

So the Iranians got a three-week window in which to process their uranium, and the EU-3 got the firm backing of the Non-Aligned Movement -- in keeping the matter from moving to the UN Security Council. The ever-helpful NAM failed in its attempt to water down even this tepid scolding from the IAEA, another "victory" the Times celebrates in its coverage.

So what does victory look like? Strangely enough, it looks almost exactly like a humiliating defeat:

The decision appeared to wrong-foot Iranian officials, who pledged to continue co- operating with the agency but also vowed to defy the demands made in the new resolution. It is evident that the motive is to apply pressure, said Cyrus Nasseri, Irans delegate to the IAEA. Fortunately, Iran will not bend. Iran will be a nuclear fuel producer and supplier within a decade. ... Dr ElBaradei said that the jury is still out on whether the Iranian authorities would comply.

The Times assures us that Iran will face "strong international pressure" to shut down its facility at Isfahan and reseal the site once again. Well, that would constitute a change ... how? All that the Iranians have faced is "strong international pressure", and look where it has led. Victory after victory at the bargaining table while the Iranians do as they please in real life. Obviously, some people have focused on the wrong contests, and it doesn't appear to be the Iranians.

Please note that this "victory" has the Iranians so rattled that they now brag openly about not just producing their own nuclear fuel, but transforming the program into exportation as well. Wasn't the entire idea of opposing the Iranian nuclear program to keep them from supplying nuclear material anywhere? Perhaps this is yet another for of "victory" of which I remain ignorant, although references to Munich and 1938 vaguely come to mind.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 12, 2005 7:13 AM

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