OpinionEditorialIran plays for time

Iran plays for time

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Iran Focus – Editorial: A day before a draft sanctions resolution was tabled at the UN Security Council, the Iranian government announced the signing of a trilateral nuclear agreement with Brazil and Turkey. On the face of it, Tehran agreed to send its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for nuclear fuel. In reality, this was an underhanded attempt to short-circuit looming sanctions.

Iran Focus

Editorial

Asharq al-Awsat, 20 May 2010A day before a draft sanctions resolution was tabled at the UN Security Council, the Iranian government announced the signing of a trilateral nuclear agreement with Brazil and Turkey. On the face of it, Tehran agreed to send its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for nuclear fuel. In reality, this was an underhanded attempt to short-circuit looming sanctions.

Tehran has a long history of shifting its positions to buy more time and the international community has sadly continued to be conned. This time, however, instead of immersing themselves in pure naïveté, worl,d leaders noted that just a week prior, Iranian authorities refused to negotiate over the key demands made by the Security Council.

Substantively, the Turkish accord did not change anything. Indeed, as a notable editorial by the state-run Kayhan – considered the mouthpiece of Iran’s Supreme Leader – put it on May 18, “Iran has on many occasions stressed that uranium enrichment activities and fuel production cannot count as topics for any deals or negotiations.”

In light of that, the US and other world powers were prudent to push ahead with proposing a fourth round of UN sanctions. As important as that is, the draft resolution has been considerably diluted to accommodate primarily short-term economic concerns of Russia and China. But, when it comes to an issue that has the potential to threaten international peace and security, short-term economic concerns must take a back seat.

The international community must move towards a comprehensive oil, arms, and diplomatic embargo against a regime that not only pursues a dangerous nuclear program but also violently suppresses its own population. In addition, Western powers should seriously contemplate the imposition of a diplomatic embargo on Tehran by denying its emissaries visas to travel abroad.

In pursuit of that, the draft resolution does provide some important opportunities if taken seriously. Mention of Iran’s Central Bank can serve as a platform to expand the range of financial restrictions against the Iranian regime as a whole. Moreover, the US and the European Union – the latter at its summit in mid-June – should act quickly to impose more comprehensive and direct sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards which now controls a huge chunk of the Iranian economy. Time is of the essence.

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