After intense diplomacy, the EU3 has succeeded in getting majority support on the board of the IAEA in Vienna for a resolution that opens up for reporting the question of Iran and its nuclear activities to the UN Security Council. It however leaves it open when this could be done.
It remains to be seen what good this will do. So far – as the linked editorial in the New York Times today argues – most of the policy moves done versus Iran in the last few years have been counterproductive. The hardliners are stronger, and the democrats weaker, in today’s Teheran.
There is no question that there is reason for concern. IAEA Director-General El-Baradei said after the vote, that ”the international community is . . . not satisfied with the level of confidence-building measures Iran has so far taken.”
There are however different degrees to that dissatisfaction. Of the 35 states on the IAEA board, 22 voted in favour of the diluted resolution, while most of the others abstained.
There were numerous reasons for these abstentions. One is the fear that a move towards the Security Council would cause Iran to limit its cooperation with the IAEA and indeed start actual enrichment of uranium, as it indeed has threatened to do. Then, the entire thing would result in the situation getting worse.
And behind is also the fear that if the issue goes to the Security Council without a clear strategy on what to do there, one could end up in a situation of escalation like the one leading up to the Iraq war. Suspicions against Washington after those months undoubtedly plays a significant role.
But it is clear that there will have to be taken a broader approach to the entire issue of relations with Iran. Iran is critical also to stability in Iraq. 40 % of the oil that is traded internationally daily passes through the Strait of Hormuz. We are dealing with a significant nation.
Instead of policy at a distance, the US must move closer to all of these issues by establishing diplomatic relations with Iran.
It’s one of the oddities of today’s world that such relations don’t exist. Not that they in themselv would solve much, but they would at least increase the points of contacts and make better daily assessments of what’s happening possible.
We are talking about one of the most difficult, and potentially most dangereous, issues on the global political agenda of today.