IAEA Reports Iran to U.N. Security Council
The International Atomic Energy Agency has reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog Saturday reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council in a resolution expressing concern that Tehran’s nuclear program may not be “exclusively for peaceful purposes.” Iran retaliated immediately, saying it would resume uranium enrichment at its main plant instead of in Russia. The landmark decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board sets the stage for future action by the top U.N. body, which has the authority to impose economic and political sanctions.
Still, any such moves were weeks if not months away. Two permanent council members, Russia and China, agreed to referral only on condition the council take no action before March. Twenty-seven nations supported the resolution, which was sponsored by three European powers — Britain, France and Germany — and backed by the United States. Cuba, Syria and Venezuela were the only nations to vote against. Five others — Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa — abstained, a milder form of showing opposition. Those backing the referral included India, a nation with great weight in the developing world whose stance was unclear until the vote.
This is just another example of the Security Council, a great idea in theory, simply does not work in practice. Getting just to this point has taken months and, by the time the Security Council actually votes to do anything–if it ever does–it will likey be too late. The bottom line is that, even in egregious cases like this one, there is enough divergence on the Council as to basic norms that unanimity among the Permanent Members and consensus among the entire group is virtually impossible to achieve. And almost never fast.
In this particular case, however, there do not appear to be any better options on the horizon. Military action outside the aegis of the Security Council–technically illegal, but often necessary–is likely not viable. Sanctions will not work. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that anything done by the Security Council will, either.