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Britain has decided that the Iranian negotiations have run aground and plan to pursue sanctions. The Guardian reports that Javier Solana's briefing on Iranian intransigence provided the straw that broke the camel's back:
The British government signalled yesterday the latest round of negotiations with Iran had failed and that it will begin a push within the next fortnight for targeted UN sanctions against Tehran. ...
The British official, talking to journalists in London on condition of anonymity, said Javiar Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, had at the weekend briefed the five permanent members of the security council - the US, Britain, France, China and Russia - plus Germany and reported that Iran had failed to suspend uranium enrichment as the UN had demanded.
Mr Solana, on a visit to Finland yesterday, said a telephone call to Ali Larijani, Iran's leading nuclear negotiator, yesterday failed to produce any breakthrough.
The British official said the foreign ministers had "agreed these steps should be incremental, they should be proportionate and they should be reversible if the Iranians do take the steps that are required of them".
Apparently the sudden "idea" that Iran conceived, where France would enrich uranium in Iranian facilities, did not count as a breakthrough in Solana's assessment. The insistence that the enrichment occur in Iranian facilities has torpedoed the supposed blockbuster development. The Iranians have made little effort so far in this standoff, and apparently the UK has tired of the sham.
We will shortly find out whether the UN Security Council will enforce its own demands against a defiant nation. Russia and China have made it pretty clear that they want to avoid the confrontation with their trading partner. Perhaps if Britain takes the lead, their animosity towards the US will not interfere with the necessary actions to rein in the Iranians.
Escalating sanctions may take much longer than anyone can afford. The international community has already extended the clock on Iran's nuclear race, and this plan appears to do much the same. In order to have any effect, sanctions must bite and bite hard. A gradual phasing of economic penalties will only prolong the image of impotence that the West has struggled to eliminate, and the Iranians could develop the bomb before the sanctions escalate to the point where it would make a difference to the Iranian people.
Britain should be hailed for its resolve. We need to work to make sure that the sanctions provide enough incentive within a short time frame to convince Teheran to give up its nuclear ambitions.Sphere It View blog reactions
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