Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's wrong with 'testing' Iran?

The proposal to have Iran send some 80% of its known low enriched fuel stock to Russia and France for enrichment to 20% is deemed to be a test of Iran's intentions by the Obama administration. Emily Landau and Ephraim Asculai explain why it's the wrong test.
This test, however, is flawed in two important respects. The first dimension goes to the terms of the test itself. Even if Iran ultimately agrees to the deal, this by no means "proves" that its intentions are peaceful, because it may calculate that it can replenish the stocks in Natanz relatively quickly and perhaps use other secret facilities for this purpose as well. Moreover, it is working on the plutonium route in Arak. Similarly, if Iran does not agree to the draft, this in itself would not be "proof" that its intentions are necessarily military.

The second flaw is the very need to test Iran's intentions. In fact, there are enough indications already that Iran's intentions are not peaceful. One needs to look no further than the IAEA itself – not at the positions of its director-general, ElBaradei, rather those of his deputy, Olli Heinonen. Heinonen indicated already in February 2008 that the IAEA possesses evidence that is not consistent with any explanation other than that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. The existence of the second enrichment plant at Qom also points in this direction.

As such, these tests of Iran's intentions add nothing, but more problematic, they can be dangerous. The so-called test of Iran's intentions has been framed in a manner that if this week Iran agrees to the deal – especially after saying that it needs more time once the US, Russia, and France have all agreed – the determination of the international community to confront it firmly will very likely decrease considerably. It will seem that Iran has "finally" chosen the route of cooperation, whereas in reality the specific deal that will have been secured does nothing more than (at best) delay Iran's plans.

The international community cannot afford to allow this deal to distract it from the broader goal that it has set for itself, which is to stop Iran from advancing toward nuclear weapons. If Iran accepts the deal, the challenge for the international community will be to continue negotiations while maintaining the same degree of determination as before the deal was secured. At the very least, it should consider postponing provision of reactor fuel to Iran until a more comprehensive deal with Iran – that addresses the real issues of concern – is carved out.

And if Iran rejects the deal, the international community will be left in an awkward position, but at least its determination to stop Iran will likely remain strong.
I disagree with that last sentence - there's no determination to stop Iran except in Israel. The rest of the world regards the idea of stopping Iran as distasteful and something it would not undertake but for the fact that if the world does not stop Iran, Israel will, and the rest of the world will pay a major share of the consequences.

The distaste for stopping Iran is greater in some countries (the United States - or more specifically the Obama administration) than it is in others (like France - can you envision having written that three years ago?). President Obama will try to play this down to the wire to avoid doing what will eventually have to be done - confronting Iran militarily.

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.


At 2:47 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Iran is likely to reject the offer. Why stop at 80%? They'd be stupid not to try to get more from the West.


Post a Comment

<< Home