Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Standing Firm

Iran was dealt a blow today in their standoff over nuclear enrichment when the UN permanent members reached an agreement to recommend Iran be taken before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for violating their nuclear agreement by breaking the seals placed by UN inspectors on nuclear enrichment equipment. The permanent members are the US, Britain, China, Russia, and France. China and Russia had been working to come to some kind of an agreement with Iran, but have concluded that negotiations were futile and now support the IAEA taking up the case. It is more than likely when the IAEA meets in March that they will vote to send Iran before the UN Security Council which could then levee severe economic sanctions against Iran for violating their agreement.

Iran's reaction was to first to announce that should they be referred to the Security Council all diplomatic negotiations with them would cease and secondly they would stop all UN inspectors attempts to monitor their activities within their nuclear plants, making clear that they would resume their nuclear enrichment program. Iran has not indicated conclusively whether they would withhold oil as part of their retribution for a referral to the Security Council. They have eluded to this possibility during the past month since they broke the seals. OPEC members recently refused an attempt by Venezuela (who has aligned itself politically and through trade agreements with Iran) to reduce oil production which would increase prices. At that time Venezuela cited a surplus of oil as the reason for the request, but it appears it may have been a thinly veiled attempt to leverage oil prices as a means to influence the US to back down on it's insistance that Iran be recommended to the Security Council. Venezuela also sits on the IAEA council and is expected to vote against a formal referral of Iran to the Security Council. Venezuela would be affected economically should the sanctions occur for their alliance with Iran.

As if that is not enough, Iran further pointed out their singular position in the world by demanding that the government of Denmark make a formal apology to them for the cartoons that appeared in a paper there that ridiculed Mohammad. The paper had already apologized to Muslims of the Arab world for the cartoon, but Iran is not an Arab nation and is demanding their own apology, not from the newspaper but from the government itself. The government has not issued an apology regarding the cartoon incident, which is indicative of the policy there providing freedom of speech for the press. Will this lack of a formal apology on the part of Denmark be acceptable to Iran? Based on their inability to bend, probably not.

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posted by Is It Just Me? at 7:12 AM