- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2005

This week, Iran broke the protective seals at the Isfahan nuclear facility and resumed uranium-conversion activities. It then scoffed at the International Atomic Energy Agency and international negotiators. In sum, it bankrupted the EU 3 negotiations. This effectively ends the possibility that the negotiations could succeed. It should open the doors to a radically tougher approach, one that ends the kowtowing.

Iran’s posture should now be clear to everyone: Even though the IAEA expressed “serious concern” and issued a resolution against the move — relatively soft moves under the circumstances — even this was too much for Iran. The Iranians called the statements “absurd” and the IAEA “tyrannical.” That means the world is back where it was in March. Iran simply managed to buy itself more time to pursue its two-decades-old quest for nuclear weapons.

Failure was all but preordained for the EU 3 strategy, what with the type of intransigence the Iranians have shown. Even in May it was evident the talks had yielded little or nothing. About all that can be said is that the plaudits Washington won from French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier for “giving negotiations a chance” were dearly expensive. We hope the Europeans recognize that these negotiations have actually moved us backward, causing half a year to be lost. We should hope at least they recognize that what sober Iran watchers knew about the Iranian posture all along is now definitively known by all to be true.

Negotiating away Iran’s nuclear ambitions simply isn’t in the cards. The idea, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other administration principals intended it, of giving Iran a chance to apply for World Trade Organization membership in exchange for ending its uranium-enrichment efforts sounded promising to diplomatic ears, but not to Iran.

The next step will be getting Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, but even this will be of limited utility because of China and Russia. It hardly helps that the IAEA still isn’t convinced that sending Iran to the Security Council is the right thing to do; while the EU 3 called for it, the IAEA would not as of Thursday. That’s disappointing, and prompts the question of what, if anything, meets the IAEA’s threshold for referral.

It’s time for Washington, the EU 3 and the IAEA to take a radically different approach. Here’s Mr. Bush on the subject in his 2005 State of the Union address in which he identified Iran as “the world’s primary state sponsor of terror.” The Iranian regime “must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium reprocessing and end its support for terror.” That’s square one for handling the Iranian nuclear threat.

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