The agreement that France, Germany and Britain reached with Iran this week signals that the diplomatic option of dealing with Iran's nuclear weapons program no longer exists. To understand why this is the case, we must look into the agreement and understand what is motivating the various parties to accede to its conditions.
The agreement stipulates that the European-3 will provide Iran with light water reactor fuel, enhanced trade relations and more nuclear reactors. In exchange, the Iranians agree that for the duration of the negotiations toward implementing the agreement -- including a European push for Iranian ascension to the World Trade Organization -- it will not develop centrifuges and will not enrich uranium. At the same time, the Europeans accepted Iran's claim that it has the legal right to complete the entire nuclear fuel cycle -- meaning, it has the legal right to enrich uranium. ...
Iran's interest in making the deal is clear. The IAEA governing board is set to meet next week to discuss Iran's nuclear program. By agreeing to the deal with the Europeans, Iran has effectively foreclosed the option, favored by the US, of transferring Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council for discussions that could lead to sanctions on Iran.
Aside from that, all along, Iran has been gaming the system. It has pushed to the limits all feasible interpretation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory, to enable it to reach the cusp of nuclear weapons development without breaking its ties or diminishing its leverage over the Europeans as well as the Russians and Chinese. In so doing, it has isolated the US and Israel -- which have both gone on record that Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons -- from the rest of the international community, which is ready to enable Iran to achieve nuclear weapons capabilities.
UPDATE -- November 23: This cartoon appears in today's (Tuesday's) Investor's Business Daily.
Posted by Forkum at November 21, 2004 08:59 PM