Will Iran Unanimity Turn Around to Bite Bush?

President Bush has been basking in the unanimity he fashioned concerning Iran among the “Five plus One” countries: the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia, and China) plus Germany. With this diplomatic triumph, Bush is shedding his image of “My way or the highway” unilateralism.
But only at the cost of considerable risk. The more he relies on this success, the deeper he “digs himself into a hole,” if he should veto an Iranian counter-offer that others would accept (even just one or two of the others.)
The unanimity among the six nations was secured only by leaving a key provision unsettled. All agreed that Iran must “suspend” its Uranium enrichment program, but there was no consensus on what this “suspension” would require.
The US insists, in terms that sound non-negotiable, that there is no suspension “while one centrifuge spins.” But, others seem ready to permit some modest spin. It would allow Iran to have stood up for its principle of autonomy–and, equally important, to have stood up to the United States and won.
Iran’s upcoming counter-proposal is, in fact, very likely to include some centrifuges–monitored at a number not considered serious for bomb-making, possibly along with a commitment to forego injecting Uranium gas into the machines. Of the six allies, China is the most likely to accept such an Iranian offer, and after China, Russia and Germany.
If the US vetoes such a compromise, Bush’s diplomatic triumph will implode, the UN sanctions we want will not be imposed, and Iran’s nuclear program can go full speed ahead. The responsibility for this disaster would go to Bush’s no-compromise, no-diplomacy, no-alliance intransigence.
If this occurs, it will be shortly before the mid-term congressional elections.



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