Sunday, January 19

UN must take new approach to Iran

Weakly enforced policies have not worked; it's time to stop nation's nuclear pursuits

The relationship between the United Nations and Iran is analogous to that of a mother trying to correct her rebellious child with futile threats and punishments. And since Iran’s announcement on Feb. 11 that it now possesses nuclear power, the sanctions that the U.N. has imposed for the past decade to deter Iran can be said to have goaded the child’s defiance even more.

Iran’s announcement, especially on the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, demonstrates just how ineffective sanctions and U.N. resolutions have been against Iran. Using sanctions as a way to bide time has only allowed Iran to jump two steps ahead while the U.N. is left to play catch-up. In light of Iran’s declared ability to enrich uranium, the U.N., led by the United States, must now take stronger action against Iran.

As Iran continues to pursue its nuclear agenda, current sanctions look like idle threats of taking away the TV or iPod to a rebellious teen. Meanwhile, the teen has the freedom to run to bystanders for what is denied by the parent. In suit, Iran will only look to its friends, Russia and China, to bypass the sanctions against it.

Unfortunately, the analogy continues. The lack of decisiveness and unity among the U.N. Security Council members produces the same message to Iran as would the situation in which one parent tries to impose limitations on a child while the other continues to defend it.

According to an article by The Associated Press, “China, one of five permanent members of the Security Council, has close economic ties to Iran and can block a resolution by itself.”

As long as countries like China hold out on providing full support against Iran, the U.N. will only continue to function as a platform for Iran to declare its future plans while other nations sit and watch from the sidelines.

I am not suggesting that the United States take military action against Iran. With the debacle of a military success that the Bush administration called “a victory” and that we call the “War in Iraq,” in addition to the chaos that is now Afghanistan, there is no way that the U.S. could afford another military operation in the Middle East.

Moreover, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, it’s not that Iran doesn’t deserve to become a nuclear power. In fact, the nuclear technology could go a long way in producing more efficient ways of obtaining energy. But despite Iranian protestations that the nuclear power is to be used for peaceful purposes only, its actions illustrate otherwise. Iran continues to play a game of hide-and-seek with the International Atomic Energy Agency as it did with the facility at Qom last September 2009. This justifiably gives the impression that Iran is hoping to do more with its nuclear capabilities.

And it’s not as though Iran has retracted statements denying the existence of the Holocaust, suggesting the removal of Israel from world maps, or even tried to deny its support of terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

But the U.N. with the leadership of the United States must take more immediate action. Since negotiating no longer works and talks only lead to further acts of defiance, perhaps the U.S. should pursue new strategies in forcing both China and Iran to work cooperatively.

U.N. Resolution 1737, passed back in December 2006, banned any trade with Iran that could contribute to its enrichment program. Although the resolution did not specify as to what items of trade constitute the ban, Iran’s profit from trade in oil certainly doesn’t seem to be hurting its advancement. Iran’s oil exports accounted for 80 percent of that country’s totals in 2006. Not surprisingly, China helped Iran profit with a contribution of $7.1 billion (8.3 percent) by importing Iranian oil.

By blocking Iran’s ability to export its oil, not only would China be compelled to come around in support of action against Iran, but Iran’s hand would be forced as the country struggles economically. In other words, such a measure would affect Iran in the immediate short-term and pose concern for its long-term economy, demonstrating a stronger and more productive action by the U.N. in curbing Iran’s nuclear agenda.

In the meantime, as Iran made its announcement, millions of Iranians filled the streets in protest. Yet the Iranian government “celebrated” its new nuclear powers by executing two Iranian men based on charges that they were “enemies of God.”

There was a time when the world feared Iran’s capability to obtain facilities. It did. We again feared its capability to enrich uranium. And now that time has passed. As long as a weak U.N. allows Iran to achieve its goals, the strong possibility of a nuclear warhead looms in the near future.

Exactly what are we waiting for?

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