In the latest sign that Washington and its European allies have failed to persuade Iran to end its nuclear weapons programs, the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday passed a watered-down resolution that is likely to encourage more defiance from the ruling mullahs. At a meeting in Vienna, the IAEA board of governors approved a resolution that "welcomes the fact that Iran has decided to continue and extend its suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities." The resolution also capitulates to Iran on a major point: its insistence that it is not legally required to freeze its uranium enrichment efforts. It refers to Iran's suspension as "a voluntary confidence building measure, not a legal obligation."
The IAEA resolution fell short of what Washington was seeking: a binding commitment that Iran will end its nuclear weapons programs and referral of the matter to the U.N. Security Council if the regime fails to do so. But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher tried to put the best face on things, stating that Washington "went along with the resolution" because it believes that Iran will eventually violate it, and that this can serve to trigger further action.
Iran has a very different view. The resolution was "a definite defeat for our enemies who wanted to pressure Iran by sending its case to the U.N. Security Council," said Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. The New York Times reported that Iranian officials toasted approval of the resolution with the French ambassador to the IAEA at his residence.
The resolution is just the latest example of a lengthy, embarrassing ritual that has become commonplace since the IAEA began investigating Iran last year. IAEA inspectors periodically visit suspect Iranian sites. Every few months, the IAEA board gets together and passes a resolution criticizing Iran's cheating and concealment activities, and the European Union 3 Britain, France and Germany announces that Iran has agreed to change its behavior. Months later, the world learns that Iran has continued to cheat and misinterpret the treaty. Indeed, Iran's failures to come clean about its nuclear activities have repeatedly been documented by the IAEA as recently as Monday.
Iran has successfully been buying time while advancing its weapons research and development. Appeasement has had the predictable effect of emboldening Tehran to take a much more aggressive posture in the region, which includes financing Hezbollah and Hamas terrorism in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza and the terrorist insurgency in Iraq. The current situation is probably a picnic compared to what will happen should Iran develop nuclear weapons.