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OPINION – Ronald S. Lauder: Put more pressure on Iran – Financial Times Deutschland

(WJC)–In a contribution for the German newspaper ‘Financial Times Deutschland’, the president of the World Jewish Congress argues that the latest UN sanctions against Iran were only a first step and need to be followed up with unliateral measures by the US and Europe. Read the full text in English and German below.

Put more pressure on Iran
By Ronald Lauder 

On Wednesday, following months of intensive diplomatic haggling, the UN Security Council finally passed a fourth package of sanctions on Iran which at least to some extent can be qualified as “strong”. The fact that China and Russia were now willing to support such measures sends out the important signal that the international community is determined. The vote at the United Nations is the fruit of hard work, in particular by the Obama Administration.

The United Nations have again made it clear that a nuclear-armed Iran is not an acceptable option. Yet whoever believes that Iran is unprepared is naïve and has learnt little from the past years of negotiations.

These sanctions come late. President Obama wanted them in place six months ago, and his French counterpart Sarkozy even promised them “within three months” – back in the summer of 2009. Precious time has again been wasted.

In the meantime, in Natanz, Qom, Isfahan and other secret locations, Iran’s nuclear program and the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade has continued at great pace. In parallel, the regime is developing medium-range missile systems and has procured plans to build advanced nuclear warheads.

All this is happening under the watchful eyes of the international community. Reports by the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna provide clear evidence of Iran’s true intentions, as do those of Western intelligence services. Although Iran is censured when it denies IAEA weapons inspectors access to its nuclear sites, or otherwise fails to comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nothing else happens.

As long ago as 2006 the UN Security Council adopted a legally-binding resolution which called on Tehran to cooperate. The same year, the council passed sanctions because Iran had failed to comply with its demands.

In other words, for the last four years the regime in Tehran has been in clear breach of international law. It has defied the international community and has put up a smokescreen of frantic diplomatic activity which serves only one purpose: to gain precious time.

Any tactic suits Iran if that tactic helps to delay effective sanctions. As a result, Iran already possesses sufficient fissile material for two nuclear bombs. A year ago, it had only enough to make one.

In short, for years Iran has successfully made a fool of the international community and always been a step ahead of the diplomatic game. President Ahmadinejad will continue to make dishonest offers to the West, combined with ludicrous demands and conditions. Together with his allies around the Globe he will continue to present himself as the innocent victim of Western attacks.

Iran has managed to fool the world with a kind of pseudo diplomacy that only serves the purpose of creating confusion and seeks to drive a wedge into the international community, despite the growing threat that Iran poses to world peace.

Iran’s reasoning has been that no country will want to lose its competitive advantage in the global marketplace for oil and gas by unilaterally withdrawing from the lucrative Iranian energy market.

Regrettably, Brazil and Turkey have now deemed it appropriate to negotiate with Tehran about possible “compromises” – without the international community’s mandate to do so. At the Security Council, these two countries were the only ones to vote against the Iran sanctions package, when even Lebanon abstained.

Only a mediator that is accepted by all sides, acts on the basis of international law and is not secretly motivated by narrow self-interests can be a credible arbiter. After the events of the last weeks, I have my doubts that Ankara is well qualified to assume the role of an “honest broker”.

Moreover, why should we assume that Turkey or Brazil will achieve, in the course of a few months, the breakthrough that even diplomatic heavyweights like Russia and China could not bring about in years of intensive diplomacy and political pressure? The “deal” they presented three weeks ago was rightly rejected by the permanent members of the Security Council.

The Iranian regime will continue to gain time. As long as certain countries keep trying to score cheap diplomatic points despite the seriousness of the issue, there will not be a satisfactory solution. The international community’s unity and resolve is an absolute precondition for stopping aggressive regimes such as the one in Iran. It must not be squandered.

However, this will not be sufficient. The new UN sanctions will have to be implemented forcefully, and additional measures – if necessary on a unilateral basis – must follow suit.

The United States are forging ahead, and Europe would be well-advised to, as a minimum, withdraw quickly and fully from the Iranian oil and gas sector.

Even if this means voluntarily forgoing profits in the short term: it is our only chance to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran without military means. After years of fruitless diplomacy, now is the time for action! Further by-standing would be wantonly negligent. It appears that the European heads of government are now finally ready to act.

*

Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.

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