Israeli Prime Minister Sharon went on a mission this week to Russia and to the European Union. He urged them to support the imposition of U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran – for “violations” of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Sharon also urged them to withdraw a proposed Security Council resolution that could result in sanctions being imposed on Israel – for failure to withdraw its troops from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.
Why should sanctions be imposed on Iran?
Well, for years Israel and the United States have claimed that Iran has a clandestine nuke development program.
Iran denies it.
Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Hence, Iran is required to “declare” to the International Atomic Energy Agency all 1) nuclear material; 2) nuclear reactors and equipment therefor; 3) non-nuclear material for reactors; 4) plant and equipment for the reprocessing, enrichment and conversion of nuclear material and for fuel fabrication and heavy water production; and 5) technology associated with each of the above items.
Iran has a right to acquire, produce and operate all the above, if subjected to an IAEA Safeguards Agreement.
Though not required to do so, Iran invited the IAEA to come assure themselves that Iran had declared everything it should have, and that the charges by the U.S. and Israel were unfounded.
The principal “violation” the IAEA uncovered was that Iran had obtained, way back in 1991, almost two metric tons of natural uranium and had not “declared” it.
The Iranians contend that the amounts were small – well below the IAEA threshold of “one effective kilogram” of fissile material – and didn’t need to be declared.
After all, even if the Iranians did have the a capability – which the IAEA says they don’t – to enrich two tons of natural uranium, they couldn’t have produced more than two pounds of weapons-grade uranium from it. It takes at least 60 times that amount to make one Hiroshima-like nuke.
But, the IAEA ruled that, whereas amounts larger than “one effective kilogram” of fissile material are subject to more stringent controls and reporting requirements, all amounts have to be reported.
The Israelis and the neo-crazies were ecstatic. Iran was not in complete compliance with its Safeguards Agreement.
So, bomb Baghdad!
No, wait. That was last year.
Well, why not urge the IAEA Board of Governors to refer the less-than-complete-compliance “violation” to the U.N. Security Council.
The board refused.
So, Sharon went around the IAEA to Russia and the EU. His message? Either the Security Council passes a resolution invoking sanctions on Iran, or Israel and the U.S. will put Iran – the “center of world terror” – at the top of the “to do” list.
But even British Foreign Secretary Straw, when he heard what Sharon was urging, said “it would be the gravest possible error” to do unto Iran what we did to Iraq.
Quoth Jack – “I think that the way to ensure proper progress with Iran is not by that kind of hostile threat, but by the process and strategy of constructed and critical engagement that we [EU] are involved in.”
For if Iran concludes an Additional Protocol to their existing Safeguards Agreement – giving the IAEA the right to inspect without warning any suspicious activity in Iran – then the EU has agreed to provide everything that Iran is entitled to under the terms of the NPT. In particular, Russia intends to finish construction of the power reactors at Bushehr.
President Putin even made a counter-threat: “If the principle of preventive use of force continues to develop in international practice, then Russia reserves the right to act in an analogous manner to defend its national interests.”
That could be construed as a warning to Sharon – don’t even think of “taking out” Bushehr.
So Sharon failed in his primary mission. But, what about his secondary mission?
Russia and the EU – with U.S. approval – had also introduced a resolution at the United Nations last week asking the Security Council to formally “call” for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Sharon urged Putin to withdraw it.
Such a resolution would effectively put the Security Council “in charge” of that establishment, and that could be big trouble for Sharon.
You see, there is an existing resolution – UNSCR-1403 – that “demands” that Israel withdraw all its troops from Palestinian cities.
So, is Sharon busting his donkey to comply with that existing resolution? Are you serious?
So, did Putin agree to withdraw his proposed resolution? Are you serious?