Saturday, Sept 27, 2008
Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 was the day the policy pursued by Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres, of reliance on the international community to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb, sank without a trace. The international community declined to adopt fresh economic sanctions to rein in an increasingly defiant Tehran.
A deal between the US and Russia in New York sealed a very brief non-sanctions draft reaffirming previous council decisions for the five permanent Security Council members and Germany to table. It also called for Iran’s compliance.
This ignored the reality of Iran openly flouting all three previous sanctions resolutions: Tehran continues to enrich uranium, reprocess plutonium, build nuclear-capable missiles and stonewall on International Atomic Energy Agency’s questions and inspections.
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Even the usually forgiving IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei changed his tune and admitted Thursday that Iran was on its way to “mastering technology that would enable it to build atomic bombs.”
Yet no comment has come from Israel, either from the Kadima-nominee for prime minister Tzipi Livni or defense minister, Labor’s Ehud Barak, although ElBaradei was clearly preparing the ground to raise his hands and admit failure in stop Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon capability. The world would have to swallow the pill.
This acceptance was reflected in the West’s backing down on a fourth round of sanctions. Iran, free of fear of retribution, may go forward with its first underground nuclear test some time next year, flaunting the inability of its arch-foes, America and Israel, to prevent it attaining the status of first Islamic nuclear power.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could therefore afford to be cockier than ever when he addressed the UN General Assembly in Nazi-style anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli and anti-American language. Tehran would ignore any council demand imposed by “arrogant powers” to curb its nuclear program, he declared. The issue was closed.
The Iranian leader can afford to crow. This week he won solid backing from Iran’s ultimate power, supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called on the nation to give him their support.
This cleared the way for Ahmadinejad’s re-election as president next year and enable him to continue to shepherd the national nuclear weapons program through to completion.
He certainly picked up the gap in perception of the program between Israel and the world powers. While Israeli spokesman still refer to a future threat which there is still time to stop, most world leaders appear reconciled to its presence.
The collapse of Israel’s foreign policy on this issue came at an unfortunate juncture:
1. The pandemonium in the US-led financial world has removed the Iranian threat from international consciousness.
2. Moscow, Iran and Syria are cementing their partnership, giving Tehran’s nuclear aspirations a strong diplomatic umbrella.
Moscow is pursuing cold war tactics in two new spheres: the Middle East, from its center of gravity in Tehran, and Latin America, resting on Venezuela’s anti-American posture and friendly relations with Iran.
Israel’s foreign policy, lame and defensive at the best of times since Livni took over, appears as oblivious as ever to the disastrous developments pressing down on the Jewish state.