October 2, 2007

France Keeps Pressure On Iran

The government of Nicolas Sarkozy intends to keep pressure on Iran to abandon their nuclear program, and wants to see the rest of the world follow suit. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a European broadcaster that Western credibility required the pursuit of tougher sanctions, as the UN continued to dither:

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Tuesday the West must continue to work on sanctions if it is to be taken seriously by Iran, even as talks continue to resolve a stand-off over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Kouchner told Europe 1 radio that the situation in Iran was dangerous and that a nuclear-armed Iran would make the situation in the Middle East even more complicated.

"While the European dialogue continues...we have to work on sanctions so as to be taken seriously," Kouchner said.

So far, the West doesn't appear to be listening. The UN Security Council agreed on Friday to postpone any application of new sanctions until at least November to allow more diplomacy with Teheran. The EU insisted that another round of talks should be tried to see whether existing sanctions had forced any change in the Iranian position.

Kouchner has a clearer sense of the situation. Diplomacy could certainly continue on a parallel track. The hesitation only encourages the mullahcracy, showing that their opponents have no unanimity, no resolve to see the sanctions through to the end. The EU has talked with Iran for years in order to dissuade them from pursuing nuclear weapons, and talks have done nothing but allow Iran to build massive cascades of uranium centrifuges that could produce enough material for bombs in less than two years.

Does that mean the bombing should start in the next couple of months? Count me among those who think a bombing attack on Iran would be disastrous, especially for the long-term relations between the Iranian people and the West. The option exists, but there are other options as well. Why haven't we mounted a massive information campaign against the mullahcracy? Where's our Radio Free Iran? We have other options on the table against the Iranian theocrats, but we seem to lack the resolve to use those, as well. Those tools helped expose the rot within the communist bloc a generation ago and encouraged the massive and mostly peaceful uprising against the oppressive governments of eastern Europe.

We need a similar effort here. Sanctions are a part of it, but also a coordinated information campaign, along with material support for democracy activists within Iran. A massive effort in these areas could topple the mullahcracy, but it needs time to work -- and the more we dither, the more likely it will be that we will have to use our military to end the nuclear program instead of empowering the Iranian people to do it themselves. That will be an opportunity lost that we will regret for decades.


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