The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice expressed strongly-worded concern about recent developments in Iran’s nuclear program during remarks at a U.N. Security Council briefing on the issue. She cited a November IAEA report and a recent statement from an Iranian military official that the Islamic Republic plans on moving some of its enrichment activities to “safer places” — presumably underground facilities constructed near the holy city of Qom. Rice called the news “yet another alarming development.”
In her remarks, Rice raised the two issues as a call to international action:
The start of enrichment at Qom will serve as yet another illustration of Iran’s flagrant disregard for the Council’s very clear position on Iran’s enrichment activities. Iran’s behavior plainly belies the purported peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
…The Council therefore must redouble its efforts to implement the sanctions already imposed. Full implementation of these measures will show Iran there is a price to be paid for its deception. Full implementation can also slow down Iran’s nuclear progress, buying us more time to resolve this crisis through diplomatic means.
In her demand that the “international community must speak with one voice,” Rice is doubling down on one of the few measures taken against Iran’s nuclear program that have actually been effective in slowing its progress: Security Council sanctions on the nuclear program barring weapons and nuclear-related business with the Islamic Republic. In a May report, a U.N. experts panel concluded that those international sanctions “are constraining Iran’s procurement of items related to prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile activity and thus slowing development of these programs.”
While international diplomacy and the resulting sanctions have worked to slow Iran’s nuclear progress, the former head of Israel’s vaunted Mossad spy agency Meir Dagan said this week that the threats of military attack on Iran “may lead the Iranians into a reality in which they are (pushed over the edge) and try to obtain nuclear capabilities as quickly as possible instead of treading rather carefully while taking the international community’s demands into consideration.” According to reports, the current classified U.S. intelligence estimate on Iran’s nuclear program concludes that Iran has not yet taken a decision to construct a nuclear weapon.