After substantial pressure and arm-twisting the Bush administration managed to obtain a resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency last week accusing Iran of non-compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The fact that Russia and China abstained, as did many members of the non-aligned group of countries, and that the resolution had no specific trigger date for a referral to the United Nations Security Council, dilutes its impact.
However, beyond such procedural issues, the question remains: will such démarches have an impact on Iran? Many in the US and European capitals seem to think that a mere invocation of threats and tentative IAEA resolutions will cause Iran to capitulate and once more suspend its nuclear programme. This is a gross misreading of Iran’s newly inaugurated government. The election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardline president, has ushered in a new international orientation that is determined not just to assert Iran’s prerogatives, but is largely indifferent to western rebuke.