(by Eli Lake, NYSun.com) WASHINGTON – As Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns prepares for a
meeting with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in
Berlin tomorrow to discuss imposing tough sanctions on Iran, neither
the Bush administration nor some of the most hawkish Republicans in
Congress are yet willing to consider military force if those sanctions
fail to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

The idea of
putting a war resolution against the Islamic Republic to Congress was
floated Monday on Fox News by the editor of the Weekly Standard,
William Kristol. A resolution authorizing force against Iran for its
defiance of a U.N. deadline to end uranium enrichment, as well as
against Sudan for stepping up its military offensive in Darfur, would
be a sufficiently “credible threat,” Mr. Kristol said. “And that would
be something, if you did it in the next week or two, that could shake
up the election,” he added.

Yesterday, however, the proposal received a lukewarm reaction at the White House and from two pro-Bush administration senators.

“As the president
has emphasized throughout, we are seeking a diplomatic solution to the
problem with the Iranian regime. The president could not have stated it
more emphatically on numerous occasions,” a spokesman for the National
Security Council, Frederick Jones, said.

administration official who requested anonymity called the idea
“ludicrous” and added, “That’s not even a consideration.”

“The situation in
Iran is not improving, and Senator Brownback prefers to leave all
options on the table,” a spokesman for Senator Brownback, Brian Hart,
said. A Republican of Kansas, Mr. Brownback won a battle in 2003 to
raise small sums of public money to sponsor Iranian democracy
activities in Iran.

Mr. Hart added
that the senator “feels that at this time the best course of action in
Iran is democratization efforts and regime change from within.”

An aide to
Senator Santorum, a Republican of Pennsylvania who authored legislation
that would authorize funding and support for internal opponents to the
Iranian regime, pointed out that for now at least, her boss also favors
internal regime change.

“As the senator
noted on Sunday, the Senate needs to pass the Iran Freedom and Support
Act, the bill that he introduced two years ago,” the aide said. “That
bill gives the United States an opportunity to go after Iran by using
pro-democracy forces within Iran and outside of Iran, and to do
something to crack down on that regime with additional sanctions. So
far the administration has opposed Senator Santorum on that effort.”

In June, the
State Department helped thwart Mr. Santorum’s plan to attach the
measure to an Iran resolution after Secretary of State Rice announced
that America would be prepared to participate in talks with Iran on its
nuclear program if it stopped enriching uranium.

Iran’s defiance of a Security Council deadline to end that enrichment presents President Bush with a dilemma.

While Mr. Bush
has identified Iran as a charter member of the “axis of evil” and has
said he will not tolerate an Iranian nuclear bomb, analysts have said
any attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could prompt a Shiite uprising
in Iraq, where American military commanders have already accused the
Iranians of supplying weapons to insurgents attacking coalition forces.
The toppling of Saddam Hussein appears to have severely inhibited
America’s ability to take military action against Iran.

Another risk in pressing Congress for a war resolution now is that it could fail to gain enough support.

“Right now the
public is vacillating. Something like this, even if it becomes
necessary, could well backfire,” a conservative foreign policy analyst
who requested anonymity said yesterday. “What if the administration
can’t make the case that Iran is really a menace and the resolution
goes down because the CIA sabotages them again?”

The deputy
director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Patrick
Clawson, said: “The U.S. government is pursuing multilateral diplomacy
with the Europeans in the lead, and the Bush administration is pleased
that this is an issue where they can present themselves as multilateral
to the core. If the United States or Congress were to discuss such a
resolution, the rumor mill in the Middle East would go into overtime,
saying the United States will actually do this.”

The sanctions
diplomacy currently under consideration includes U.N.-led measures as
well as a voluntary plan agreed on by Europe, Japan, and America to
deny Iranian banks access to American dollars. For the last year, the
Treasury Department has pressed European banks to begin divesting from
Iran, pointing out that banks that do business with Iran might have
their access to American financial markets restricted.

“Any discussion
about the need for military action against Iran highlights the problem
with the diplomatic process,” the vice president for foreign and
defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Danielle
Pletka, said. “It has become clear that effective multilateral action
is all but impossible. That leaves the United States in the position of
choosing between doing nothing and military conflict with Iran.”

Reprinted here with permission from The New York Sun. Visit the website at NYSun.com.


1.  What is the purpose of the U.N. Security Council?

2. a) List the countries that make up the 5 permanent members of the Security Council. 
b) How many additional member countries are there, and how are they chosen?  (For the Secuity Council webpage, click here.)

3.  For what reason is Nicholas Burns meeting with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council tomorrow?

4.  What type of solution does the Bush administration support if Iran continues to defy the U.N.?

5. a) What type of solution do Senators Brownback (R-KS) and Santorum (R-PA) favor? 
b) Why do you think the Bush administration has opposed Sen. Santorum’s bill, the “Iran Freedom and Support Act?”

6.  Describe the sanctions currently under consideration.

7.  Do you think diplomacy/sanctions will work with Iran?  Explain your answer.


Iran’s 20 year secret nuclear program
was discovered in 2002.  Iran continues to insist that its program is
for fuel purposes only, but it has been working on uranium enrichment
which is used to make nuclear bombs.  Under the United Nation’s NPT (Non
Proliferation Treaty) countries are not allowed to make nuclear weapons
(except those that had weapons when the treaty was signed). The
U.S. succeeded in getting the UN’s IAEA (International
Atomic Energy Agency) to refer Iran to the UN Security Council with the
hope that if Iran does not stop their work, the Security Council will
impose sanctions on Iran and cause them to comply with the NPT.  The
Security Council gave Iran until August 31st to end their uranium
enrichment or face sanctions.  Iran has refused to end its program. 
The U.N. has not yet taken action.

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