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March 29, 2006
UN Gives Iran 30 Days, But Then What?

The UN Security Council finally agreed on a resolution demanding that Iran halt its uranium-enrichment program and sent it to the Islamic republic late today. The UNSC demand gives Iran thirty days to cease its program and return to the terms of the NPT, but the document carries no legal standing and fails to communicate any consequences for defiance:

The U.N. Security Council demanded Wednesday that Iran suspend uranium enrichment, the first time the powerful body has directly urged Tehran to clear up suspicions that it is seeking nuclear weapons. ...

Diplomats portrayed the statement, which is not legally binding, as a first, modest step toward compelling Iran to make clear that its program is for peaceful purposes. The Security Council could eventually impose economic sanctions, though Russia and China say they oppose such tough measures.

The UNSC adopted the resolution by consensus, but the only agreement that the 15 nations could reach was to punt for another month. The UN representatives plan to debate the consequences for Iran if it fails to comply with the request, but that will wait until tomorrow -- and it's unclear that any decision could affect this resolution anyway. The resolution did not give any indication that the UNSC will modify its approach in any way.

This may be a start, but it's a weak one, which is exactly what Russia and China wanted all along. They actually wanted the matter referred back to the IAEA, which lacks any kind of enforcement power. All it can do is report its findings to the UNSC when a country falls out of compliance. If the Russians and Chinese prevail, what the UNSC would wind up creating is an endless loop, where violations would get reported to the UNSC and then promptly be returned to them. Even this resolution refers the matter back to the IAEA, asking only for a status update.

Teheran must have spent this afternoon laughing up its collective sleeve. As Saddam did in the last years of his regime, the mullahs have spent their oil money wisely to capture at least one and probably two of the five vetoes on the UNSC. There will be no further progress on this matter, at least not at the UN, while we allow Russia to run interference for Iran long enough for them to develop working prototypes of nuclear weapons.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 29, 2006 5:54 PM

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