Friday, May 27, 2005


From the Wall Street Journal:

Pardon us for not joining the huzzahs to Iran and Europe for this week's deal extending Tehran's moratorium on uranium enrichment. It is at best a temporary fix, at worst one more sign to terrorist states that civilized nations won't confront them over the nuclear issue.

Iran gains another few weeks to work on the nuclear program it concealed from the U.N. for 18 years, while the Europeans think up a bigger bribe. Everyone agreed to meet again in late July, when the Europeans are supposed to present a detailed list of incentives they will offer in exchange for Tehran's promise to give up its alleged "right" to enrich uranium. Iran also gains by delaying any showdown until after next month's presidential election -- in which 1,000 reformist candidates have been disqualified.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany struck their deal with Iran on Wednesday in Geneva. Yesterday, also in Geneva, the World Trade Organization agreed to open membership talks with Iran. Unlike the 22 other times this issue has come up, the U.S. did not object. Agreeing to let Iran negotiate to join the WTO was part of the U.S. promise to the European three last March in return for their agreement that Iran can't be allowed to enrich uranium. At the very least, this action ought to put to rest the caricatures of the Bush Administration as "cowboys" determined to go to war with Iran. ...

Oh, and we mustn't forget what's happening, or rather not happening, in New York, where the five-year review conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty ends today with no censure of Iran or North Korea in sight. Secretary General Kofi Annan even warned last week against expecting any effective action if Iran or North Korea is ever referred to the Security Council.

We review all this to make the point that if there ever was a moment for the world's believers in multilateralism to come forward, this is it. The self-proclaimed supporters of collective security around the globe have made it clear that they don't want the U.S. to act on its own to stop nuclear proliferation, so how about the world's non-cowboys taking the reins and riding to the rescue?

At West Point in 2002, President Bush said "We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign nonproliferation treaties, and then systematically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long." That was three years ago. If the multilateral failure on Iran and North Korea continues, no one should complain if the U.S. feels obliged to act on its own to protect Americans from the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue governments.