Monday, January 30, 2006

Big-6 Debate Iran

Foreign ministers from the Big-6 are back in discussions today about how to deal with the quickly growing Iran threat. There are a few options on the table, and a real sense that the stakes have never been higher, as rumors emerge that Iran is far closer to having enriched Uranium than anyone had previously thought. These are the options being debated, and their present status:

1) Referring Iran to the UN Security Council:
The EU-3 and United States support referring Iran to the Security Council for economic sanctions. Russia and China do not support this move, as they believe there is still hope for the negotiations mentioned below. Both China and Russia fear sanctions on Iran will strain economic ties and world oil supplies, as both China and Russia trade actively with Iran. Additionally, there are serious questions as to what effect, if any, sanctions would have on Iran, considering they moved all their funds out of European banks last week. The Security Council may not have any teeth in this situation.

2) Negotiating the sale of processed Uranium from Russia:
The concept is good; allow Russia to enrich the Uranium to the appropriate configuration for energy production. This configuration (and I hope I’m using the right word here, science is not my forte) is not appropriate for nuclear weapons, so it is a method of regulating what Uranium Iran is in possession of, and what they can accomplish with their nuclear program.

This solution would provide for Iran’s energy need, which they state is their whole reason for a nuclear program. And it will not allow creation of a bomb. The problem is that Iran does not want to accept this option. They say it’s because they would not get enough Uranium to supply all of their energy needs, but that is clearly not the case, as Russia can enrich a limitless amount of Uranium for Iran.

Further, if this deal were accepted there have been indications that world powers would supply additional Uranium to Russia for enrichment for Iran, so Iran’s power supplies can be met. In reality, Iran doesn’t want this plan because it prevents them from enriching weapons-grade Uranium, and they want the talks because it allows them to continue enriching Uranium while the world does nothing.

3) Americans hold direct talks with Iran:
Many experts in all 6 countries are asking for the US to enter negotiations with Iran, and to talk them out of pursuing their nuclear program. But do we really think that plan will succeed? In the Iranian eyes, perhaps in reality, the US is weaker now than they have been at any time in the past hundred years. We are, to some extent, dependant on Iranian oil, which represents 25% of world oil production. And with our deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is doubtful that we could engage in a war with Iran. What’s worse, Iran knows it, and this knowledge will taint any negotiations that could occur between the United States and Iran.

The option that won’t be discussed is the military option, the potential to bomb Iranian nuclear sites and eliminate the issue. Perhaps it’s too terrible to talk about right now, perhaps there is too much fear of Iranian retribution, including reducing oil exports to the rest of the world. But that option will not be discussed yet.

This meeting is an important precursor to a meeting later this week between the leaders of all 6 countries; lets hope that somehow these meetings lead to a productive response to the largest threat on the planet today.

Posted by Scottage at 12:14 PM / | |