(photo credit: AP [file])
According to the latest IAEA report, Iran has added new uranium enrichment gas-centrifuge machines to the existing ones and is further enlarging its enrichment capacity.
It has also stepped up both the rate of uranium enrichment and the development of more advanced types of gas centrifuges that in turn would increase the rate of enrichment further.
If all goes well for Teheran, it would be able to amass a sufficient quantity of low-enriched uranium to enable it to further enrich it and, by the turn of the decade, produce enough military-grade uranium to produce a nuclear device.
Iran has defied all calls by the IAEA, the UN Security Council and many countries to suspend its uranium enrichment activities. Iran's envoy to the IAEA has stated, "We continue cooperating with the IAEA but they should not expect us to apply the Additional Protocol."
Without the application of the Additional Protocol, the IAEA cannot be expected to achieve much in confirming the "peaceful nature" of Iran's nuclear program, or to uncover the details of Iran's military nuclear program. It can only be concluded that the talks with Iran and all but the most superficial inspection activities have reached a dead end.
It is now up to the Security Council to decide how to proceed. Facing it are three choices: strong enough economic and diplomatic sanctions to force Iran into serious negotiations, military action or accepting a nuclear Iran.
Proposals for sanctions have centered around a threefold program: a) to prohibit sale of any goods to Iran with the exception of food and medical supplies; b) to restrict Iranians' foreign travel by having UN member states refuse to issue entry visas to Iranians except for humanitarian or health reasons or for negotiating purposes; c) to start - with the appointment of a subcommittee or other agreed negotiators - serious ongoing negotiations with Teheran on the complete cessation of its nuclear-fuel activities in Iran, while also dealing with vital security issues, including abandonment of Iranian assistance to terrorist organizations and the establishment of normal relations with all nations. In return, Iran would receive security guarantees.
This program must be viewed as a complete package. There is very little chance that Iran will cease its nuclear-development agenda and start serious negotiations unless strongly and effectively pressured. Without strong, painful sanctions Iran will continue playing for time. Iran must be made to consider the cost-benefit relationship of its actions.
Once Iran realizes that it has a lot to gain by cooperating and a lot to lose by doing otherwise, the talks would have a chance of succeeding.
Should the Security Council find itself unable to agree on such a program, this option should be taken up by others such as the European Union, which, together with like-minded countries, could enforce the above restrictions while negotiating with Iran on these topics.
This might have less effect than Security Council action but still could be quite effective.
If the Security Council or major political blocs do not quickly agree on the strong sanctions-negotiations route, the possibility of a military action will become more realistic.
And if that doesn't happen, there will be no way to avoid the least desirable option - a nuclear-armed Iran.
Reprinted with permission of INSS - Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University
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