Another day, another principle. Bush is now being pressured to abandon multilateralism and go it alone with Iran. Remember: In September 2003, after Iran was discovered cheating on its nuclear program, the United States wanted immediate U.N. action. The allies argued for a softer approach. Britain, France and Germany wanted to negotiate with Tehran and offer diplomatic and economic carrots in return for Iran's giving up its nuclear weapons program. The United States acquiesced.I'm sure the Europeans would be quite happy to dump this whole mess back in our laps now that they have failed. So much better than having to actually vote for something definitive in the Security Council.
After 2 1/2 years of utter futility, the E.U. Three had to admit failure and acknowledge the obvious: Iran had no intention of giving up its nuclear ambitions. Iran made the point irrefutable when it broke International Atomic Energy Agency seals and brazenly resumed uranium enrichment.
The full understanding we had with our allies was that if the E.U. Three process failed, we would go to the Security Council together and get sanctions imposed on Iran. Yes, Russia and China might still stand in the way. But even so, concerted sanctions by America, Europe and other economic powers could have devastating effects on Iran and its shaky clerical dictatorship.
Which is why the mullahs launched this recent initiative. They know, and fear, that if the West persists on its present and agreed course, they face sanctions so serious that their rule, already unpopular, might be in jeopardy. The very fact that Iran is desperately trying to change the subject, change the venue and shift the burden onto the United States shows how close the mullahs believe we are to achieving major international pressure on them.
Pushing Washington to abandon the multilateral process and enter negotiations alone is more than rank hypocrisy. It is a pernicious folly. It would short-circuit the process that, after years of dithering, is about to yield its first fruits: sanctions that Tehran fears. It would undo the allied consensus, produce endless new delays and give Iran more time to reach the point of no return, after which its nuclear status would be a fait accompli .
Entering negotiations carries with it the responsibility to do something if they fail. The E.U. Three understood that when they took on the mullahs a couple of years ago. Bilateral U.S.-Iran talks are the perfect way to get Europe off the hook. They would preempt all the current discussions about sanctions, place all responsibility for success on the negotiations and set America up to take the blame for their inevitable failure.
It is an obvious trap. We should resolutely say no.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Charles Krauthammer cuts through the fog about Iran's newest demand for unilateral talks with the United States. The usual critics always excoriate the U.S. for supposedly going it alone whether it be Kyoto or Iraq, except when they excoriate the U.S. for acting multilaterally as we've done with North Korea and Iran. But, if people like Madeline Albright can't recognize Iran's ploy for what it is, perhaps she could benefit from a private tutorial with Dr. Krauthammer.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 6:44 AM