The sudden decision by Russia and China to allow Iran's nuclear weapons program to be brought before the U.N. Security Council should caution American officials about the old saw of being careful about what they wish for.
It is doubtful either Moscow or Beijing have had any change of heart about their support for the Tehran regime. Moscow favors having Tehran ship uranium to Russia, where it would be enriched and then returned to Iran for use in its nuclear reactors. This would defuse the current crisis, but it would not end the long-term threat. It would legitimize Iran's possession of enriched uranium, handing it a diplomatic victory that would validate its claimed "right" to a nuclear program.
Maybe I'm missing something here, but Iran does have a "right" to a nuclear program, as long as it's peaceful. The point of sending uranium to Russia for enrichment is that it will only be enriched to a level which is necessary for use in nuclear reactors generating power, but not to the level necessary to build nuclear weapons. So it appears Hawkins begins with a false premise concerning some sort of "diplomatic victory" if that is what, in fact, happens.
Now, I'll be the first to admit to being an outspoken critic of the UN and it's almost chronic ineffectiveness. But this doesn't seem, at least at this point, one of those occassions. That's not to say it won't end up that way, but it's too early to declare it dead just now.
Hawkins builds a case against China as being the Judas goat in this case based on his premise. And essentially he says "this is all a smoke screen which is being used to hide both Chinese and Iranian collusion" and to eventually frustrate the US. I'm not sure how such collusion would be useful in protecting a growning market for China in Iran (payment for which is tendered in oil).
Russia is building Tehran's nuclear reactors, and is also interested in oil and gas projects. There have also been overtures to Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the main objective of which is to prevent the U.S.-NATO presence in Afghanistan from spreading Western influence in Central Asia.
Washington sees the U.N. as a vehicle for action. Beijing, however, sees the U.N. as a vehicle for blocking Washington. In its white paper "China's Peaceful Development Road" last December, Beijing states "The international community should oppose unilateralism ... and make the U.N. and its Security Council play a more active role in international affairs."
So, per Hawkins, the game is afoot with China using Iran as a way to "oppose unilateralism", unilateralism being a code word for "the US". And, under domestic pressure at home, the Bush administration has been moved to seek more inclusion of the UN (and diplomatic solutions) in developing problems, such as Iran. It is there Hawkins sees the awaiting trap for the US, and is convinced that it may be a trap the US might willingly walk into:
The Bush administration failed to win a Security Council majority to back its decision to use force against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Moscow and China did not even have to use their vetoes: The U.S. dropped its call for a vote when it realized it would lose.
In 2003, the United States took its Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to the Security Council in an attempt to expand international law against weapons of mass destruction. Resolution 1540 was adopted unanimously in April, 2004, but rewritten to corral the PSI, not empower it.
The operative sections refers only to "nonstate actors" and "illicit trafficking" in WMD, thus providing no foundation for acting against national governments.
One can easily imagine a similar outcome, with the Security Council passing a "compromise" measure that would serve mainly to prevent action by the U.S. against Iran. The PSI and Iraq campaigns have continued without U.N. approval because of their importance to U.S. security. However, in the face of domestic political opposition to new military action, as well as budget constraints and deployment problems, undoubtedly many even within the Bush administration would welcome an excuse to do nothing about Iran.
I doubt that would be the case, considering Condi Rice's rhetoric to this point. I think this assessment underestimates the threat preceived by the US as concerns Iran and I think the perception of the US has been made clear to both Russia and China.
But Hawkins' claim that unilatral military action is probably not in the cards ignores reports of the US targeting of Iranian nuclear sites. And, if China is really interested in its developing markets in Iran (as is Russia) as well as the oil it receives from Iran, it simply doesn't make sense to pursue a diplomatic strategy which has, as it's priority, "stopping unilatralism" through frustrating the US in the UN Security Council and leaving it the same last alternative it did the last time it stood against a diplomatic solution with Iraq. Instead, it makes much more sense, assuming the economic priority, to see this settled peacefully. That means no nuclear weapons in Iran.
China is no more immune to enlightened self-interest than is any other country. Same with Russia. My guess is, in this case, their priority will fall more on the economic side than that which would confront or frustrate the US. In fact, for all members of the UN Security Council, it seems that their best interests are served with a diplomatic solution which keeps Iran out of the nuclear weapons club but allows them the ability to create a peaceful nuclear infrastructure.
Let's see if, for once, they can actually make that work and see a united diplomatic effort succeed. It would be a nice change, wouldn't it?
I do belive the whole issue of Iranian nuclear technology is just a distraction from the real one — the Iran Oil Bourse (IOB), where oil will be exchanged for Euro or other currencies and not US dollar.
Alternatively, it means confirmed nuclear weapons in Iran. Either way seems to fall to China’s advantage.
Sanctions are not to China’s economic advantage. An attack on Iran is not to China’s economic advantage. A nuke free Iran with no economic disruption or threat to the flow of oil is to China’s advantage.
A confirmed nuke in Iran is only to China’s economic advantage if the rest of the world does nothing ... and that is what Hawkins is trying to sell.