The U.S. representative, Ambassador Kenneth Brill, challenged the IAEA’s see-no-evil conclusion. “It will take time to overcome the damage caused to the agency's credibility by this highly unfortunate and misleading ‘no evidence’ turn of phrase.” According to the Los Angeles Times, the IAEA director, Mohamed ElBaradei, a former law professor at New York University, sallied forth to defend his organization’s honor saying “ the report used the word ‘evidence’ to mean ‘proof’ – words that he argued were interchangeable in a legal sense.”
In fact, Secretary of State Colin Powell has been quoted as saying that he believed the evidence inevitably led to the conclusion that Iran intended to build a weapon, even if it had not yet succeeded. ElBaradei declared, “I cannot verify intentions.”
If this sounds familiar, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the line ElBaradei and his colleague, Hans Blix, the then-head of the UN weapons inspection program in Iraq, employed to excuse Iraqi non-compliance in the run-up to war last Spring.
Another reprise of the international community’s dithering over Iraq is to be found in the role France and Germany have been playing vis a vis Iran – this time around, joined by Great Britain.
Last month, the three European countries’ foreign ministers traveled to Tehran for the purpose of securing still more promises from the mullahs that they would not build nuclear weapons. In exchange, the EU diplomats publicly assured the Iranians that, their countries would reward improved behavior (such as Tehran’s agreement not to reprocess nuclear reactor fuel and its signing up to – and implementing – a new, more intrusive inspection accord with the IAEA) with still more Western nuclear technology.
It would appear that the Europeans also pledged to preclude the United States from doing anything to denuclearize Iran, either via the UN Security Council or through covert or military means.
Interestingly, press reports indicate that the French and Russians gave similar assurances to Saddam Hussein a while back. Tariq Aziz, the erstwhile Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, is said to have told his American captors that the Iraqi despot’s friends promised him they would delay and, if necessary, veto any American-initiated UN punitive action. Only President Bush’s determination to take steps alone, if necessary, and if possible with a “coalition of the willing” enabled Saddam to be overthrown, his country liberated and the threat he posed to his neighbors and us liquidated.
As long as veto-wielding Security Council members are determined to thwart UN action, it is a non-starter to think we can “internationalize” a problem like that posed in the past by Iraq or by Iran (and North Korea, for that matter) today. And doing nothing generally means allowing the initiative to pass to those who will use whatever time they are given to increase the danger they pose to us. This is neither evidence of the judgment necessary to provide competent national leadership, nor a formula for American security.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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