After reading the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision last Saturday to refer Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.
Teheran greeted the resolution with the indignant and combative announcement that it would cease all cooperation with IAEA inspectors. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said last Sunday: "If this resolution makes you satisfied, go on and issue as many as you want."
He added that as far as he was concerned, the IAEA's decision showed that its members were "stupid" because they "do not understand that the world has changed. They believe that we are still in the Middle Ages, where several people decide and others accept. But this era is over." Iran also announced that it was resuming full uranium enrichment activities.
So much for the hope that referral of Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council would work to deter and moderate the Iranian government.
The fact of the matter is that the IAEA and its member states - first and foremost the US - have given the Iranians three good reasons reason to believe they can feel free to continue apace with the nuclear weapons program.
Almost unbelievably, in spite of the agency's clear evidence that Iran is working to build nuclear bombs, rather than refer the issue of Iran to the Security Council immediately, the IAEA's decision postponed the referral of Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council for five weeks. Aside from this, the fact is that there is close to zero chance that the Security Council will take any meaningful action on the issue next month, or at all.
Immediately after the IAEA's decision was made public, the veto-wielding Chinese government announced that China would oppose any resolution calling for sanctions on Iran. In an interesting choice of words, China's ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, explained that his government opposed sanctions as "a matter of principle."
Aside from the fact that Iran has just received five weeks to enrich as much uranium as it wishes and that China has made clear it will block any sanctions resolution against Iran, there is a the fact that one of Iran's greatest defenders is the man who is charged with submitting the report on Iran to the Security Council.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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