At least that’s my rough count of the time elapsed for the meeting at which the United Nations Security Council just passed its fourth sanctions resolution against Iran’s rogue nuclear projects.
The clock is ticking toward the Iranian nuclear bomb. But, with a brilliant symbolic flair, the Security Council got down to business more than an hour late. During the wait, the UN webcast cameras caught delegates and their aides milling around the chamber, chatting, smoothing their hair and talking on cell phones. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice kissed assorted envoys on both cheeks, and then, as time dragged on, ended up at one point apparently staring off into space — before going into a huddle near the entrance. Delegates here and there sat down, and then, impatience unrequited, stood up again. Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee strolled around, one of the crowd, meeting and greeting.
Finally, an hour and 11 minutes into the live feed, Mexico’s ambassador — who is chairing the Security Council this month — banged the gavel. Brazil and Turkey gave statements in which they regretted that the Council had not embraced their sham proposal last month for a specious uranium swap, which they are now trying to enter into history as the “Tehran Declaration.” Turkey assured everyone of “the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program” — give or take a few nagging problems that Turkey would like to see dealt with exclusively through dialogue.
The 15 members voted 12 to 2 to approve the resolution, with Turkey and Brazil voting against. Lebanon abstained, but its ambassador seized the occasion to slam Israel and pine publicly for a nuclear-free world — in which, as advertised by the Hezbollah-infested government of Lebanon, Iran would be deterred by dialogue alone. The other members spoke their pieces, with Rice repeating the Obama mantra that “rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” (But what? So far, words have not meant anything that has stopped either the North Korean or the Iranian nuclear programs). For reasons that perhaps only UN diplomats are equipped to understand, everyone had kind words for Turkey and Brazil over their quisling attempts to abet Iran.
Then Iran’s Ambassador Khazaee treated the Council to a 59-year catalogue of Tehran’s complaints about the U.S., UK and Israel, got worked up over Israel blocking the recent terror-linked flotilla to terrorist-controlled Gaza, and concluded by thanking his new pals, Turkey and Brazil, and expressing his appreciation to Lebanon. The British ambassador gave a brief rebuttal, noting accurately that Iran’s statement was a “distorted” disgrace, and an excuse for Iran not to respond to the Security Council’s demands (which the Mexican chairman of the Council referred to not as demands, but as “requests” — though in theory today’s resolution is binding). U.S. ambassador Rice offered the Council no rebuttal of Iran’s skewed and inflammatory grandstanding. No one else offered anything either. One hour and 43 minutes after the opening gavel, the session ended.
On the resolution itself, #1929, fourth in what by now has the makings of a collector’s bound set, it’s interesting to read Glenn Kessler’s account in the Washington Post of how the Obama administration, with all its “engagement,” rallied less support at the UN than did President George W. Bush. The loopholes and omissions are legion, and the UN record of persuading member states to actually enforce such sanctions is dismal.
So, what now? After all the talks and missed deadlines and promises and extended hands, the UN Security Council, much more than a day late and a dollar short, has finally delivered itself of another resolution. The clock ticks on. If words are to mean anything that finally stops Iran’s race toward nuclear hegemony in the oil-rich, terror-spawning, tyranny-ridden Middle East, the ball is in Washington’s court. Like it or not (as Obama has put it), the U.S. is still the world’s leading power — if it is willing to stop apologizing and shilly-shallying and instead start standing up to America’s quite real and ambitious enemies. The UN has now gone through its motions, yet again. Unless something else gets done, it’s all still buying time for Iran. Now what?