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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    My only question is:

    Why is the American taxpayer saddled with pouring Millions of dollars into such a Useless and worthless organization.

    All of our politicians, Democrats and Republicans, should hang their heads in shame for their committment and support of this group of American Hating countries.

  2. ken says:

    Despite your defeatist rhetoric James, it is never “too late” to do the right thing. And if you don’t like democratic institutions why don’t you just say so?

    A strong worldwide leader with dictatorial powers would probably simplify things, much to your liking. But then, when we actually had a few of them around we waged worldwide wars (hot and cold) against their expansionist ambitions.

  3. Jonk says:

    I am sure the U.N. will arrive at a timely resolution just after we see the first Iranian mushroom cloud…

  4. DC Loser says:

    When we felt the urgency to try international diplomacy, it was amazing the things that were accomplished. 1950 – When the USSR made the mistake of walking out of the UN we got it to go into Korea on the side of the south. 1990 – Thanks to Bush I, we got international backing for DESERT STORM and kicked Saddam out of Kuwait. Don’t just bitch about it when you haven’t put forth the effort to ‘do the right thing.’ The Iranian nuclear issue is not just the fault of the UN. Notice that one of the main issues about the NPT is that the “have nots” have complained about the “haves” not abiding by Article VI of the treaty to cease the nuclear arms race and engage in nuclear disarmament. I’m not in particular agreement with this argument, but it does smack of hypocrisy on the parts of the nuclear states. Also, the Arab states, including Egypt have proposed a Middle East Nuclear Free Zone, to have the Israele nuclear weapons linked to the Iranian issue. Why not? Discuss this amongst yourselves.

  5. James Joyner says:

    DCL: What, exactly, has the UN Security Council accomplished? Certainly, Korea isn’t it. Desert Storm, like OIF, was a U.S.-led coalition nominally in support of Security Council resolutions but not a U.N. op.

  6. DC Loser says:

    UNSC gave us the blessing of the international community to go in and do what we wanted. Had we not checked off that box it would have been very difficult diplomatically to accomplish what we did. The UN is not a state with an Army. Its sole purpose is to resolve international disuptes through diplomatic means if possible. Failing that, the military option can be used. Just look at the Iraq clusterfuck for an example of what “going alone” gets you. I’m not saying the UNSC is perfect. Much of what it does happens at a glacial pace. It doesn’t fit in with our penchant for instant gratification.

  7. James Joyner says:

    What exactly was “accomplished” in Korea? Compared to what has been accomplished so far in Iraq?

  8. DC Loser says:

    Having half of Korea free is better than having none of it.

  9. DC Loser says:

    As for what’s been accomplished so far in Iraq – I’m not exactly sure. Yes, they have democracy, but then so do the Palestinians. If and when an Islamic theocracy under the influence of Iran is elected to power, don’t say “I told you so.”

  10. Herb says:

    DC Loser:

    Your name certainly fits your rehtoric. You seem to have the idea that you can talk to terrorusts and they will listen, Or, are you a promotor of a terrorist and a terrorists state. at any rate, you really are a loser and “Just plain don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

    You and Ken should get together so you can make a movie, You can call it “brokeback Terrorist” (Filmed in Iran)

  11. DC Loser says:

    Herb, obviously you don’t understand the concept of self-deprecation as far as my nom de plume goes. You see the world strictly in black and white and no grey. If it works for you, fine. It doesn’t work for me. Chacun a son gout.

    On the other hand you may have a point. I’ll out myself as a former member of the US military and a current member of the US government. Maybe that fits your definition of a terrorist promoter and supporter of terrorism.

  12. Jack Ehrlich says:

    DC Loser, your bona fides do not make you knowledgeable in any field. If you were Chairman or the Joint Chiefs, or anything other than a bureaucrat it might give you credance. The UN has failed more often than it succeeds. 17 Resulutions against Iraq, but a failed oil for food program would have left Saddam in a position to continue with his expansionist plans. I believe he wanted to be the new Salidin. Actually, more like Stalin. Half of Korea. Ask the people who live in the north if they like what they have to live with. Had the UN any use, it would have thrown back the Chinese Communists and even freed the Chinese people. Only those governments which truly represent their people should be allowed to join the UN. Iran’s leaders are not only enemies of their own people, they are the enemy of all people.

  13. G A PHILLIPS says:

    yo, DC loser, grey only works for losers, and it don’t got a damn thing do with their brain matter, only the color, that they paint the fence, that they sit on. Oh, and I looked up the word clusterf-ck in the dictionary it it had a picture of the UNSC there. so, you were in the military and now you’re in the US goverment, Dang, now I think know who it is thats been leekin ‘all are damn secrets. Black and white, good and evil,dumb and smart,true and false,hot or mild, donnie or marie, but no clusterf-cking gray. Dude, pick a side or stand on the side and protest!

  14. DC Loser says:

    Hey guys, maybe you think you can peddle your idea over at 1600 or Foggy Bottom? I don’t think they’re dying to follow your advice as they’ve been working the IAEA hard today to get all the key members to back our position. Truth of the matter is that we now need the UN more than ever with the majority of our combat power stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan. Can’t do much about Iran as we don’t have much of anything left to work with. That’s why we’re sucking up to the UN. If you got a better idea, tell it to Condie.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Yes I am sure the leader of Iran are in a hurry to get nukes and use them immediatly so that they can see their entire country turned into a sheet of radioactive glass.

    While I agree that Iran is a cause for concern under their current leadership, the “mushroom cloud” hysteria is something we have allready seen, and it needs to be taken with a large grain of salt.

    But as we know, mind tricks are pretty effective on the weak minded…

  16. Herb says:

    DC Loser:

    I just knew there was something about you.

    You’re nothing but a damned Bureaucrat.