March 22, 2006


Britain pushes for military option to restrain Tehran (Richard Beeston, 3/22/06, Times of London)

BRITAIN is pressing for a United Nations resolution that would open the way for punitive sanctions and even the use of force if Iran were to refuse to halt its controversial nuclear programme.

In a confidential letter obtained by The Times, a leading British diplomat outlines a strategy for winning Russian and Chinese support by early summer for a so-called Chapter VII resolution demanding that Iran cease its nuclear activities.

If the Government in Tehran refused to comply with such a resolution, the UN Security Council would be legally compelled to enforce it.

The strategy marks a significant hardening of the Government’s position. It contrasts with public statements by Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, this month. On March 13 he insisted that military action was “inconceivable” and that the dispute with Iran “has to be resolved by peaceful democratic means”.

The confidential letter was written only three days later by John Sawers, the political director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and sent to his American, French and German counterparts.

Leaked letter in full: UK diplomat outlines Iran strategy (Times Online)
Nick, Michael and I had a word yesterday about how to handle the E3+3 meeting in New York on Monday. We agreed that we would need to have a shared concept of what would happen in the Security Council after the period specified by the proposed Presidential Statement. I agreed to circulate a short paper which we might use as a sort of speaking note with the Russians and Chinese. This is attached.

Implicit in the paper is a recognition that we are not going to bring the Russians and Chinese to accept significant sanctions over the coming months, certainly not without further efforts to bring the Iranians around.

Kislyak might argue that those diplomatic efforts should start straightaway after a Presidential Statement is adopted. Our own assessment here is that the Iranians will not feel under much pressure from PRST on its own, and they will need to know that more serious measures are likely. This means putting the Iran dossier onto a Chapter VII basis. We may also need to remove one of the Iranian arguments that the suspension called for is ‘voluntary’. We could do both by making the voluntary suspension a mandatory requirement to the Security Council, in a Resolution we would aim to adopt I, say, early May.

In return for the Russians and Chinese agreeing to this, we would then want to put together a package that could be presented to the Iranians as a new proposal. Ideally this would have the explicit backing of Russia, China and the United States as well as the E3, though Nick will want to consider the scope of presenting this in that way. Our thought is that we would need to finalise this during June, and the obvious occasion to do so would be in the margins of the G8 Foreign Ministers’ meeting. The period running up to the G8 Summit will be when our influence on Russia will be at its maximum, and we need to plan accordingly.

Tony Blair and George Bush are dangerous enough when they're riding high, give them incentive to wag the dog and it's no wonder that Khamenei is forcing Ahmenijad to heel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 22, 2006 8:32 PM
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