EDITORIAL: Lights out for Iran’s nuclear program

This week, more than 170 presidents and prime ministers are gathering in New York City for the annual United Nations summit.

The world leaders will be discussing several issues, including terrorism, economic development and nuclear weapons proliferation.

The United States is putting special attention on the latter issue as Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attends the summit as well. Iran already raised eyebrows last month when it violated a nuclear agreement with Germany, France and Britain by resuming uranium conversion.

Repeatedly, Iranian officials have said that their country’s decision to pursue nuclear research is for peaceful purposes only.

Now, the United States is trying to push Iran’s nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

According to Sunday’s The New York Times, Iran has threatened “serious consequences” if the case gets sent to the Security Council. Iran, if you’re reading this, bring it.

Iran has already violated a demand last month from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog group, to halt its program. Next week, the IAEA is meeting to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.

Reuters reported last week that Iran is lobbying key IAEA board members such as China, Russia, India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has proposed expanding negotiations beyond the three European Union members to include IAEA members sympathetic to Iran’s cause.

According to Tuesday’s Christian Science Monitor, Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh visited Moscow to discuss next week’s IAEA meeting. Russia has pledged its support for Iran’s energy program, with examples including sending Russian engineers to build nuclear plants in southern Iran.

Russia sees Iran as a key ally in a multipolar coalition that counters U.S. primacy. However, since both the United States and the major countries in the European Union are pushing for the IAEA to take Iran’s case to the Security Council, it’s only a matter of time before Russia changes its mind.

Should the Security Council approve of sanctions, the consequences could cripple Iran’s economy. The European Union is a key trade partner with Iran. Should Iran lose that partner, it’ll no longer have any major customers to send its oil.

If Iran is smart, it will realize that the aftermath of economic sanctions are way too important to downplay. The only thing Iran needs to do is look at what happened to its neighbor Iraq when it presented the possibility of pursuing a nuclear program in the 1990s. U.N. and U.S. economic sanctions during the Clinton administration put Iraq in some of its largest poverty problems in the country’s history.

While a U.S. military attack on Iran is unlikely at the moment, U.S. sanctions aren’t. To avoid this, Iran needs to comply with IAEA, U.S. and European Union demands to abandon its uranium enrichment program.

Even if Iran continues to pursue its nuclear program, what’s it going to do? The United States, European Union and practically the entire United Nations is watching Iran like a hawk.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.