Treacherous Behaviour: Russia, China and Iran

Without hard-hitting sanctions, military action against Iran is inevitable. Dealing with the vice of Iran now is unpleasant, but dealing with a nuclear Iran will be a thousand times worse.
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This weekend's events further complicate the West's attempt to prevent the emergence of a nuclear Iran and highlight the unfortunate fact that bullies such as Iran, Russia and China ignore words -- action is their lingua franca. Full embargos, enforced immediately against Iran must be imposed before our only option is a military war. Will the European Union, the United Nations and the U.S take such action?

On Friday the EU imposed new sanctions that faintly expand the pre-existing U.N sanctions against Iran. The sanctions deny public loans or export credits to companies trading with Iran.

The EU and UN must be applauded for at least attempting to enforce sanctions against Iran, with a view to seeking a diplomatic solution. Their efforts, however, are not enough. The new EU sanctions merely cajole EU members into "showing restraint when granting new public loans for trade with Iran ... (and) being vigilant on activities taken by financial institutions with banks based in Iran."

If the idea is to force Iran to freeze its nuclear program, the sanctions must make a severe, serious impact on the Iranian economy. This is achievable only with sanctions operating against all dealings with Iran, including refined petroleum, re-insurance programs, Iranian products and against any other country that continues to deal with Iran. This would involve isolating Russia, China, Switzerland and Germany who continue to trade with Iran and jeopardise the security of the international community.

The EU is the umbrella body organising the P5+1 team of negotiators with Iran. The group includes the five permanent Security Council members consisting of the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China, plus Germany. By what right do Russia and China remain included in this group? In light of their continued dealings with Iran, the EU must dismiss Russia and China from this group, and pressure the UN to take similar action as regards their membership of the Security Council. Their individual country's dealings with Iran take precedence for them--precendence over peace.

Russia continues to increase its business relations with Iran. This, together with its recent violent offensive against the democratically elected government of Georgia, clearly demonstrates that Russia is a belligerent aggressor willing to wage war on a sovereign nation and its civilians. Russia can no longer pretend to be concerned with world diplomacy and certainly does not deserve a seat in the G8. The international community has a moral obligation to demand Russia remove its troops from Georgia. If it does not, Russia, as with Iran, should face economic and political sanctions.

Russia and China pay lip service in their superficial support of UN and EU sanctions but in reality they are driven by selfish intent rather than the security of their citizens or the international community. They leverage their power within the UN and together with Germany and Switzerland, in the EU, to block any vigorous sanction against Iran. When European countries halt their economic deals with Iran, Russia and China seem only too willing to step in. Russia and China cripple the efforts of European governments to prevent the emergence of a nuclear and dangerously powerful Iran. The threat to world peace apparently does not make any impression on them and their commercial interests.

In China's case, rather than work toward using its influence to rein in Iran, China has filled the vacuum left by European countries. When the EU stopped trading petroleum with Iran in 2007, China stepped forward to fill the void. So too, Sinopec, the main oil company in China, signed a $100 billion deal with Iran and plans to develop new oilfields in Iran in exchange for 150, 000 barrels of oil, daily, to China, for the next 20 years.

Iran's malignant intentions for the destruction of Israel and its supporters are announced, loud and clear to all who listen. Why, then, is the international community slow to act? We cannot wait for Iran, the world's largest sponsor of terror, to give nuclear material or bomb-making plans to terrorists who would unhesitatingly place a nuclear bomb in the heartlands of Western cities.

The reaction of the international community is truly pathetic. The U.S and U.K are now calling for stark and severe sanctions that target Iran's economy and oil. They must stop talking, and start acting. There must also impose severe consequences for breaches of these sanctions.

Without hard-hitting sanctions, military action against Iran is inevitable. Dealing with the vice of Iran now is unpleasant, but dealing with a nuclear Iran will be a thousand times worse. Military war is the last thing that the international community wants. In war we can only be certain of where we begin; the end is unknown. An attack on Iran could expand into a regional war with Syria and Lebanon, the Emirates and possibly other Islamic states as well.

We have a small window of opportunity but it is closing. War is not inevitable yet, but, not for long? What are the EU, U.S. and U.N waiting for? How can they not see where their actions, or non-actions, are leading us? Western influence in the Middle East is weakening while that of Russia, China and Iran is strengthening. Without serious embargos backed by severe consequences, we will soon leave ourselves with no option other than war.

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