Yesterday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that Iran will refuse demands that it give up its nuclear enrichment program. No one should be surprised at that--it was an entirely predictable reaction to the Bush administration's "make them an offer they can't accept" diplomacy.
Article IV of the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states that, "Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination…" As a party to the treaty, Iran has every justification to dig its heels in on the nuclear enrichment issue.
Pretzel Logic Diplomacy
The next step, according to most reports, will be a meeting of the UN Security Council to vote on sanctions against Iran. That will be a dicey proposition. The countries on the Security Council are also NPT signatories, and have in essence already granted Iran the right to develop peaceful nuclear technologies. What's more, imposing sanctions on Iran would be slapping the hand that's providing the packets of $100 bills Hezbollah is passing around to the homeless in southern Lebanon. That won't play well at all in the Muslim world, or in much of the rest of the world either.
Plus, two of the Security Council's members--Russia and China--are already predisposed to back Iran. Russia is making money by exporting nuclear technology to Iran, and China is fueling its industrial expansion with Iranian petroleum products. What's more, Russia and China have a window of opportunity now to use Iran as a lever to topple U.S. influence in South West Asia.
There's more. Arguments supporting sanctions say that Iran violated the NPT by hiding parts of its nuclear program from UN inspectors. But if anything, that was a violation of the Additional Protocol to the treaty that allowed "international nuclear inspectors to visit any nuclear site, installation or project at short notice and without any restrictions." And the Additional Protocol was a voluntary measure.
According to the Iran Press Service, Iran "accepted" the protocol in 2003, but never presented it to its parliament for ratification. In October 2005, Iran's Secretary of the Supreme Council on National Security Ali Larijani said, “If addressed with a language of menace and force, we shall continue with the NPT and talking, but will get out of the Additional Protocols.”
As shaky as that line of semantic maneuvering may sound, it gives China and Russian more than ample wiggle room to tell the rest of the Security Council, "Sorry, guys, but we just can't go along with sanctions. Rule of law, and so on. Isn't that what young Mister Bush talks about all the time?"
Unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran would be about as effective as cutting off an allowance to a kid you weren't giving an allowance to in the first place. And if China and Russia continue doing business with Iran--which they will--Iran won't notice a spit's bit of difference in its economy.
If, by some chance China and Russia sign off on the sanctions, Iran may well simply drop out of the NPT, which the treaty itself allows them to do.
Send in the Neo-Clowns
A Security Council veto of UN sanctions or an Iranian withdrawal from the NPT will likely set off a string of Roman candles in Dick Cheney's head, and brother, watch out for what happens then. If Uncle Dick talks young Mister Bush into launching a major air operation on Iran, things will go to Hezbollah in a handbag.
I won't go into the tactical technical details here for reasons I hope are obvious, but Iran can shut down the Strait of Hormuz faster than you can say, well, "the Strait of Hormuz." Whatever portion of the mighty U.S. Navy that happens to be in the Arabian Gulf will be trapped there, and the rest of the U.S. Navy won't be able to get into the Gulf to rescue them. The 130 thousand something ground troops in Iraq will be stranded, and surrounded by a hostile (and armed) Shia population. What little the U.S. Air Force can do to alleviate the situation will be further constrained by that services' strict "crew rest" doctrine.
Yes, given an all out effort, the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force could fight its way out of the Middle East, but how would that look? The best-trained, best-equipped, best financed military force in history, chased out of Southwest Asia by a country that couldn't beat Iraq in an eight year war?
Iran is scheduled to give its formal response to the "incentives" offer to the Security Council today. The U.S. will be represented on the Council by the Swiss ambassador because the U.S. doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Iran.
That's classic Bush II era American diplomacy. We set the precondition for negotiations with Iran, but refuse to talk to Iran about the precondition.
I'm telling you, folks, if we don't do something to check the bull goose loonies running our country come November, the rest of the New American Century is going to look like the beginning of the last American century.
Forget about investing in ethanol and fuel cells. Sink your money into oats and hay.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.