19 July 2008

Iran’s Predictable Response

It seems that the very day that new ground might be broken on Iranian nukes there is more non-movement than anything. Reuters reports that “EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana delivered a clear message to the Iranians [about stopping enrichment] but did not get a straight answer in return.” The Iranians are supposed to get back to him “within two weeks” – a timeline set by Mr. Solana.

Fox News reports that what could come next are further sanctions through the U.N. However, Iran is already under “three sets of U.N. sanctions for its refusal to suspend enrichment” and one wonders if another set of sanctions would have the desired effect. Especially as “Keyvan Imani, a member of the Iranian delegation” said, "Suspension — there is no chance for that.”

But this should have been predictable at this point. North Korea has done this dance, though it was more clandestine in its approach, I think. The North Korean experience must have been instructive for the Iranians. Iranian officials must believe in their gut that the West will not take serious action against them, or at least they are sure enough to defiantly string Western negotiators along. For together with the “no chance for that” comment was another from Iran’s chief negotiator for the matter: “Iran is calling on the Western powers to resume the dialogue.” Resume talks, never stop working towards a nice pile of enriched uranium, tick-tock, tick-tock, and expect the West to talk, talk, talk, talk. Bet that the U.N. will do nothing.

So there are two sides or two faces at work here: defiance and willingness to “negotiate” (read: talk). Perhaps there’s a cultural thing at work here that I don’t understand, a sort of Persian need to save face. But I doubt it. I think the West is just being fed a line, and a predictable one at that. One day, we’ll wake up to the big boom of an Iranian test.

No comments: