Politics & Policy

Groveling at the United Nations

How not to get Iran to do anything other than what Iran wants.

The real surprise about Iran’s latest affront to civilized behavior — the hostage-taking of British sailors and marines — is that there should be any surprise at all. For years Iran has received a consistent message from the global gurus at the United Nations: Nobody is prepared to stop you. Groveling is the skill democratic states have honed at the U.N. when confronted with naked aggression and the violation of every right and freedom they supposedly hold dear.

Here is a timeline of the U.N. moves which have progressively emboldened Iran and like-minded terrorist entities the world over.

June 2003: Only after Iran had spent years developing its nefarious nuclear program could the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency finally bring itself to state that Iran had violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

July 12, 2006: Three years of huffing and puffing later — and three days before the start of a G-8 Summit that was to consider pushing Iran harder at the Security Council — Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists infiltrated Israeli territory and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers on routine patrol along the Israel-Lebanon border.

July 31, 2006: The Security Council adopted a resolution granting Iran another time extension for ending its nuclear activities and called for another report a month later.

August 11, 2006: The Security Council adopted a resolution dashing Israel’s hope of retrieving its soldiers and removing the Hezbollah-Iranian threat to its civilian population. The resolution equated a call to release the Israeli soldiers with the release of criminals in Israeli jails and introduced a bargaining chip in the form of a Lebanese land grab (based on a claim which the U.N. itself had decided was bogus years earlier) — thereby guaranteeing the soldiers’ continued captivity. The resolution to end an Iranian-instigated and Iranian-fueled war made no mention Iran.

September 3, 2006: When it appeared the Security Council August deadline on the nuclear front might be taken seriously, Secretary-General Kofi Annan rushed to Tehran and Iranian Prime Minister Ahmadinejad’s side, shook his hand, and announced to the world: “The international community should not isolate Iran.”

October 20, 2006: Worried the U.N. protection racket needed a little more muscle in the face of growing calls for sanctions, Mohammed ElBaradei, the Egyptian chief of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, told Newsweek: [W]e don’t see a clear and present danger that we have to address tomorrow, and we have ample time to negotiate.” When pressed that “Iran’s behavior doesn’t inspire confidence,” ElBaradei responded that “the jury is still out.”

December 19, 2006: After determining Iran was engaged in stoning, flogging, amputation, torture, public executions, and systematic discrimination against women, only 71 of the 192 members of the General Assembly voted to condemn Iranian human rights abuses. A total of 105 countries either abstained or voted against; the rest were “absent.”

December 23, 2006: After much hand-wringing at the prospect of getting tough on Iran, the Security Council adopted a resolution that gave Iran this ultimatum for continued noncompliance of U.N. standards: “further decisions will be required.”

February 19, 2007: As the deadline for further decisions and another U.N. report approached, Mohammed ElBaradei handed Iran the pretext for another outrage. In a formal interview, ElBaradei told the Financial Times: “…sanctions alone do not work and in most cases radicalise the regime…If you create an environment in which Iran feels isolated, in which Iran is subject to further sanctions, then some of these worst case scenarios could take place…”

ElBaradei didn’t stop there. Pointing directly to the United Kingdom while justifying Iran’s pathological desire for nuclear weapons, ElBaradei opined:

Iran sees enrichment… as a strategic goal because they feel that this will bring them power, prestige and influence…[A] lot of that is true. A nuclear capability is a nuclear deterrent in many ways. When you see here in the UK the programme for modernising the Trident…it is difficult then for us to turn around and tell everybody else that nuclear deterrents are really no good for you…because all the weapon states, without exception, are either modernising, or thinking about developing new weapons not only for deterrence purposes, but actually usable [ones]. Statements have been made…about possible actual use, such as mini-nukes, bunker buster.

March 23, 2007: Just one day before the Security Council was set to adopt a sanctions resolution directed at Iran, the Iranians kidnapped the British naval personnel.

March 24, 2007: The Security Council adopted an Iran sanctions regime that was virtually sanction-free. The resolution uses Israel as a diversion tactic in the form of a reference to “a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.” It fails to adopt a mandatory travel ban and instead merely “calls upon all states to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit” of a limited list of individuals. It refuses to ban items and technology and instead just “calls upon all states to exercise vigilance and restraint in the supply” of these items. It does not impose a mandatory asset freeze but instead “calls upon all states and international financial institutions not to enter new commitments for grants, financial assistance, and concessional loans, to…Iran, except for humanitarian and developmental purposes.” In its one “shall not” provision, the resolution bans only the country’s arms exports — refusing to impose an arms embargo prohibiting the sale of weapons to Iran.

March 26, 2007: The U.N. Human Rights Council decided to discontinue its consideration of the human rights situation in Iran. Iran had been subject to behind-closed-doors monitoring under a confidential procedure, but the Council president announced that a decision had been taken behind-closed-doors to drop the monitoring of Iran altogether.

March 29, 2007: The Security Council refused a British request for the Council to “deplore” the continued Iranian detention of U.K. personnel and call for their “immediate release.” Instead, it issued a press statement expressing “grave concern at the capture,” making an “appeal” to Iran to allow consular access, and calling “for an early resolution of this problem, including the release…”

The pattern is painfully obvious.

Kidnap and demand the civilized world jump. And the U.N. says “how high?”

Threaten to wipe a Jewish state off the map. Begin your genocidal campaign by arming a terrorist organization to rain 3,900 missiles down on a civilian population in a single month. And the U.N. blames the Jews, while keeping you off the radar screen completely.

Start a program to acquire nuclear weapons. And work with a comrade from another Muslim dictatorship at the U.N. to run interference while your plans move full speed ahead.

Amputate, flog, stone, and execute in front of the masses, lest they get any ideas about rights and freedoms. And the U.N. removes you from its human-rights agenda altogether.

Kidnap again and demand the civilized world jump. And again the U.N. says “how high?”

Leaving the rest of us to pose a different question: Will we get off this U.N. wheel before it’s too late?

Anne Bayefsky — Professor A.F. Bayefsky, B.A., M.A., LL.B., M.Litt. (Oxon.), is a Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada, and a Barrister and Solicitor, Ontario Bar. She is also an Adjunct Professor at ...


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