Iran Focus: On May 3, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations in New York. Having the number one violator of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at a conference designed to strengthen the treaty is indeed baffling.
On May 3, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations in New York. Having the number one violator of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at a conference designed to strengthen the treaty is indeed baffling.
In his address, Ahmadinejad challenged the international community to come up with “a single credible proof” that Iran’s nuclear activities were not peaceful. His statement ran counter to numerous revelations that the regime has been working on designs for a nuclear warhead and building secret nuclear facilities such as the one in Qom. Despite Ahmadinejad’s banal denials, the Security Council and the UN’s atomic watchdog have both censured the regime for its noncompliance.
The Iranian regime is the prime example of what threatens the existing non-proliferation regime. By repeatedly defying Security Council resolutions, the regime has set a dangerous precedent for future violators and it is threatening the region with a nuclear arms race. More ominously, the prospect of a nuclear weapon in the hands of the foremost state sponsor of terrorism would have catastrophic consequences for the entire world.
Yet the West has been too unwilling to face up to the regime’s nuclear threats. At the NPT review conference, Ahmadinejad was allowed to deride “nuclear powers,” deflecting attention from his regime’s noncompliance. Western governments, meanwhile, have failed to impose a comprehensive oil and gas embargo on the regime.
The mullahs export terror and use it against their own population. Neighbouring Iraq has seen some of the worst acts of terrorism in recent weeks as political forces there grapple with forming a nationalist government outside of Tehran’s sphere of influence. In Iran, reports about abhorrent human rights violations by authorities in the midst of an 11-month-long nationwide uprising continue to pile up.
A feeble response by the West is inexcusable and precarious. Tehran has had numerous opportunities to change course, while enjoying free concessions from Western capitals. If the current trend were to continue, the regime would stand to benefit most by cementing its fragile hold on power. It would continue to suppress dissent at home, export terrorism abroad and inch closer to the bomb. Common sense and realpolitik dictate a firm policy by the West that includes not only comprehensive sanctions targetting in particular the Revolutionary Guards but also support for Iranian opposition forces. In the absence of that policy, the world will not only encounter more threatening rhetoric from Ahmadinejad but also more destructive deeds from an emboldened regime.