This past Saturday, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, voted that Iran was in a state of non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty because of its “many failures and breaches of obligations” in the conduct of its nuclear program.
The original draft of the resolution called for immediately sending the Iranian file to the U.N. Security Council. After heavy bargaining from Iran’s supporters, including Russia and India, the resolution was watered down so that no date was specified. Still, the U.S. plans to push for Security Council action on additional sanctions if Iran does not suspend uranium enrichment activities by the November meeting of the IAEA.
We and Iran are on a confrontation path. The Bush administration has held to its resolve that Iran will not be allowed to develop an atomic bomb. Right after the 2005 Inauguration, Secretary of Stare Condoleezza Rice and President Bush went to Europe. The administration agreed to give the EU-3 time to negotiate with Iran; the EU-3 in turn agreed to support taking Iran to the Security Council if the negotiations failed. When Iran defied the EU-3 by resuming uranium enrichment at Isfahan, the negotiations were over. Now the EU-3 has followed through with their part of the bargain.
When I wrote “Atomic Iran,” I predicted that the negotiations with the EU-3 would fail. I wrote that Iran’s continued efforts to develop atomic weapons secretly would leave no alternative except to take Iran before the Security Council for additional sanctions. I also predicted that the United Nations would not be able to do anything effective to stop Iran. Today, I hold to that prediction.
Take a close look at the weekend’s vote in the IAEA. Twelve nations abstained, including China, Russia and India. Russia built for Iran their nuclear reactor at Bushehr. China and India have made deals to get much needed oil and natural gas from Iran, agreements that required China and India to pledge billions in investment funds to prop up the mullahs’ corrupt economy and to rebuild the energy infrastructure the mullahs have robbed and allowed to deteriorate over the past quarter century. Russia and China are both permanent members of the Security Council. Both countries have already said they will block any move by the U.S. to place greater U.N. sanctions on Iran.
Right after the IAEA vote, the director general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, immediately went out to tell the press that the resumption of negotiations and dialogue is the only way to build confidence in a solution for Iran’s nuclear crisis.
“I hope Iran extends its cooperation with the agency and other countries to create confidence and prove its peaceful activities,” ElBaradei proclaimed. Over the past two decades, Iran has tricked and lied to the IAEA scores of times, most of which have been fully documented. With a record reminiscent of Peter Sellers and Inspector Clouseau, ElBaradei should have resigned Saturday, if he had any respect for himself or for the IAEA. Even now, ElBaradei bends over backwards to support the mullahs and give them more time for subterfuge.
What will happen next? Already the mullahs are reacting even more defiantly. After the IAEA vote, Iran threatened to use oil as a weapon against France, Germany and Britain – not much gratitude for these countries having worked so hard to support Iran diplomatically. Last Thursday, just days before the vote, the mullahs held a military parade in Tehran, flaunting their Shahab-3 missiles, replete with Iran’s typically belligerent slogans written on them – “Death to America,” “We will crush America under our feet” and “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.” This was how the mullahs began their “Sacred Defense Week,” celebrating the outbreak of their suicidal eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s. The display prompted the military attaches from the embassies of France, Italy, Greece and Poland to walk away in protest.
In November 2004, Iran did not stop enriching uranium to show their willingness to negotiate in good faith with the EU-3. That too was a lie. Technical problems with uranium enrichment caused the stoppage. When enough uranium hexafluoride gas has been produced at Isfahan to justify further enrichment, I predict the mullahs will start up the centrifuges they have buried underground at their plant in Natanz. At that point, the uranium hexafluoride gets enriched to uranium-235, weapons grade. Once Natanz starts up, the world will be ill-advised not to take seriously the red blinking warning lights and the sirens that should start screaming danger. This will be the signal that the mullahs have finally decided they can get away with making atomic bombs and that Iran welcomes a confrontation with the United States.
Count on it – the mullahs will push this game to the point where unless they are attacked, they will make a bomb. Should diplomacy fail, President Bush has said the military option remains on the table. Neither we nor the Israelis want to attack. But, as I have said repeatedly, we cannot afford to wake up one day and find out the mullahs have succeeded because New York or Tel Aviv is in the unexpected throes of a surprise Atomic 9-11 attack from Iran.