Negotiating into a Fan with Iran
Pen and Sword ^ | Monday, August 21, 2006 | Jeff Huber
Posted on 08/22/2006 9:51:28 PM PDT by humint
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.
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Jeff, your core assumption is that negotiations with Iran haven't been tried. They have! Without reciprocation! Iranian officials are liars and that is a demonstrative fact. They have lied over and over again. They’ve lied to the IAEA, they’ve lied to the UN and they constantly lie to the Iranian people. The Bush administration's approach has taken that reality into account while you have not. This is an Iranian crisis that has little to do with the Bush Administration. Under Rafsanjani and Khatami, the Clinton administration made massive offers to Tehran. Even under the Bush administration offers were made. Recall Dick Armitage made the Khatami Cult sound like they were golden. The 2003 Iranian offer you mention in your piece was an illegal offer from the Iranians and the people who tout it as a Bush failure ignore that point. It was to be a trade; Al Qaeda operatives supposedly detained in Iran for opponents of the Iranian government detained by the US in Iraq. The Iranian judicial system is severly lacking. Handing dissidents over to the Iranian government would be tantamount to executing them without due process. By the way, the Turks and the Iranians are targeting the PKK with artillery in the northern Iraq and the U.S. and Iraqi governments are acting like it is not happening, overtly anyway.
The Iranian Connection
Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission -- and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia -- is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), "played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia." Further, according to the Times, in September 1996 National Security Agency analysts contradicted Clinton Administration claims of declining Iranian influence, insisting instead that "Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel remain active throughout Bosnia." Likewise, "CIA analysts noted that the Iranian presence was expanding last fall," with some ostensible cultural and humanitarian activities "known to be fronts" for the Revolutionary Guard and Iran's intelligence service, known as VEVAK, the Islamic revolutionary successor to the Shah's SAVAK. [LAT, 12/31/96] At a time when there is evidence of increased willingness by pro-Iranian Islamic militants to target American assets abroad -- as illustrated by the June 1996 car-bombing at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 American airmen, in which the Iranian government or pro-Iranian terrorist organizations are suspected ["U.S. Focuses Bomb Probe on Iran, Saudi Dissident," Chicago Tribune, 11/4/96] -- it is irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent to which its policies have put American personnel in an increasingly vulnerable position while performing an increasingly questionable mission.
The Chain Murders
When 70-year-old dissident Dariush Forouhar and his 54-year old wife, Parvaneh, were brutally murdered at the end of 1998, their flat was under 24-hour surveillance and the crime was videotaped by the security forces. The authorities knew who the assassins were, and they also knew who killed the poet Mohammad Mokhtari, and Mohammad Pouyandeh, an essayist and translator. Arrests were made of some 20 people allegedly responsible for these murders alone, but the violent deaths of 80 other dissidents over the previous decade were still unexplained.
Iran sends Iraqis home to preach
Shi'ites in the Iranian holy city of Qom are offering payments of up to $300 to Iraqi religious students, many of whom fled Saddam Hussein's rule, if they return to their hometowns and preach Islam for six to nine weeks. The program, sponsored by an organization based in Qom known as the International Center for Islamic Studies, began about a month ago, said Ali Behbehani, an Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim who fled with his family to Iran in the 1980s and returned to Iraq last month. "They have offered $200 to $300 to those Iraqis who would volunteer to return to their city of origin and preach Islam for a period of six to nine weeks.
U.S. Offer to Join Talks and Future Steps.
In an effort to strengthen the EU-3 diplomacy, as well as to build support for international or multilateral sanctions should that be required, the Administration proposed on May 31, 2006, that the United States would join talks with Iran if Iran first suspends its uranium enrichment. Such talks would center on a package of incentives and possible sanctions that the United States, EU-3, Russia, and China agreed to in Vienna on June 1 and which EU representative Javier Solana formally presented to Iran on June 6. The possible sanctions reportedly were not presented to Iran in detail.
SPIEGEL: But Iran repeatedly lied to and deceived your agency. For example, the world only found out about the nuclear enrichment facility in Natans through information provided by Iranian dissidents. Hardliners in the Bush administration have accused you of being inexplicably soft on the Iranians.
ElBaradei: It's not a matter of dispute as to whether Iran lied and deceived in the past. We made that very clear in our reports. In the meantime, however, Iran has improved its cooperation, which, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is obligated to provide. In response to our pressure, Tehran also signed the supplementary protocol last year, which allows us to perform more comprehensive inspections on short notice. I am certainly proud of what we have accomplished in Iran. Eighteen months ago, the country was more of a black hole for us...
1. 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 and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.
2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.
JEFF HUBER Commander Jeff Huber, US Navy (Retired) was a flight instructor, operations officer of Carrier Air Wing 9 and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, and commanding officer of VAW-124, an E-2C Hawkeye squadron. Jeff's satires on military and foreign policy affairs have appeared in Proceedings, The Navy, Military, and GlobalEar. His essays have been required student reading at the U.S. Naval War College, where Jeff received a master's degree in national security studies in 1995. He recently co-authored an article on command and control of naval forces for Jane's Fighting Ships. Jeff lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he writes, plays with his dogs, works on his house, and does the occasional bit of (ahem) consulting work. He is also a contributing editor with ePluribus Media