Thursday, June 10, 2010

UN sanctions on Iran: A gift to the regime.

I really don't get Obama when it comes to Iran.

In pushing ahead with a new round of UN security council sanctions, the US has rendered redundant an Iranian offer to send 1.2 tonnes of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey for reprocessing as reactor fuel. Western diplomats claimed they had not rejected the idea, but it was clear to all what the effect of the UN resolution would now be. This is a mistake President Barack Obama may yet come to regret. True, this time, the US has Russia and China at its side, but neither country is risking much by going with the flow while taking the credit for diminishing its strength. The same is not true for Mr Obama, who has invested so much of his time and energy attempting to re-establish the primacy of US diplomacy over force. He will be seen by many to be walking away from the table at the very moment something appears to be on it.
Turkey and Brazil had come to deal with the Iranians which appeared to do much of what the West was demanding.
This is not to belittle the difficulties the deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil posed. They were real enough: the quantity of LEU Iran offered to export abroad only represents half of its total stockpile; Iran would continue enrichment up to 20% of fissile purity; and no date had been set for the removal van. But nor should one lose sight of the concessions Iran made in offering to trade: that the fuel would be delivered in one shipment; that reprocessing could take place outside Iran's borders; and that the fuel rods would have to be delivered in a set timeframe. These were Iran's objections to the deal when it was proposed in October last year, and ones which they dropped this time round. The fuel swap would not have ended doubts about Iran's nuclear programme, but it would have established a precedent.
Ahmadinejad was widely seen as on the ropes following his disputed re-election, but the enrichment of uranium is seen as a right even by his political opponents.

Applying further sanctions on Iran, after it had brokered a deal with Turkey and Brazil, will only strengthen Ahmadinejad's hand. One year after the protests which shook his authority, the best the Iranians can now come up with are peaceful marches.

"I understand why people are no longer willing to pour on to the streets," said the mother of a female student activist, who did not want to be named for fear of exposing her jailed daughter. "If you do so, you can be sure to face any kind of punishment, either being arrested, raped, killed or anything else. I don't think people will come out in the numbers we saw last year.

"But I don't think the absence of protesters means the opposition movement is defeated. They'll find a time again. It can't continue like this."

The Iranians actually sound even more defiant as the news of the new round of sanctions came through.
"Nothing will change. The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue uranium enrichment activities," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna, said after the vote.
I really don't know what Obama is doing. He is trying to hurt Ahmadinejad, but - in reality - I think this will help Ahmadinejad in the long run.

Nothing unites a nation more than the feeling that they are being unjustly punished.

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