Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Iran Games the UN Again

When I was growing up, teachers and instructors would always say that practice makes perfect (later amended to perfect practice makes perfect). One of the ways a person learns is by observing and watching others perform a given task, and then practicing the same task yourself. With enough time, observation, and / or effort, the task becomes routine and it can be carried-out without much thought or difficulty. This perfectly describes how rogue nations and megalomaniacal dictators game the UN.

Last week, we learned quite a bit more about Iran's nuclear program. In addition to stonewalling progress on talks designed to halt enrichment (via the economic incentives and technology transfer package), reversing its position on those talks multiple times to buy additional time, and playing games with the IAEA inspectors, we now learn that Iran has a secret underground nuclear facility at a military installation. They decided to come clean about the whole affair once they realized the US, France, and others, knew about its existence:

The United States has known about the unfinished site since the Bush administration, according to senior U.S. officials who declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations. French intelligence officials were also aware of the facility for several months at least, a U.S. diplomatic source said.

It wasn't until Monday that Iran wrote a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, revealing the existence of the underground facility on a military base near the Shia Muslim holy city of Qom.

Additionally, apparently, the only thing this new facility was designed for was enriching Uranium for a nuclear weapon:

The facility is thought to be capable of housing 3,000 centrifuges, which is not enough to produce nuclear fuel to power a reactor but is sufficient to manufacture bomb-making material.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not mention the Qom plant during his visit to New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly sessions. He reiterated earlier claims that Iran has fully cooperated with nuclear inspectors.

Secret nuclear facilities on military installations? Going to great lengths to keep it secret? Lying about being in compliance with IAEA inspectors? Can there be any doubt about Iran's ambitions now? Iran has a made a mockery of the UN since 2006, when the Security Council finally got serious about cracking down on them, and they have excelled at playing the game. Appearing indignant and uncooperative at times (which riles up the US and Britain), Iran would turn its stance on a dime and express willingness to negotiate (which is just enough to make China and Russia want to back-off on stronger sanctions) when it suited their purposes. The end result is that it has bought them time ... almost four years worth of time.

As of today, there have been at least four specific resolutions directed at Iran's nuclear program, and none of them had made any progress in changing the course of their program. UNSC Resolutions 1696 and 1803 specifically prohibit Iran from enriching Uranium (which they openly flaunt), and UNSC Resolutions 1737 and 1747 are sanctions tied to those violations. Having said all that, what do you think the response will be to this latest revelation? Well, here is an idea:

The Obama administration, while skeptical of an early breakthrough in nuclear talks with Iran, indicated Tuesday it does not intend to swiftly press for stiffer economic sanctions.

Crowley noted that President Barack Obama has said he intends to take a few months to assess Iran's position and consult with U.S. negotiating partners before deciding what next steps to take.

Just what Iran wanted ... more time.

The current score: Iran 5, UN 0

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