The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Enemy of my enemy

Russia's and China's recent announcement that they will support referral of Iran to the U.N. Security Council is emphatically not a breakthrough against Iran. China and Russia, permanent members of the security council and holders of veto power over all its actions, agreed to refer Iran to... the security council! How exactly does this constitute a breakthrough?

Both China and Russia have mutually profitable relations with Iran, selling knowledge and weaponry in exchange for influence and export contracts. They wish to maximize, not the extent of these dealings, but their profitability. To this end, it is in their interests to weaken Iran's bargaining position so that a given investment [of armaments] will yield greater returns. A referral to the security council, where America and Europe are known to stand against Iran, will make them the brokers of Iran's future.

In other words, the referral of Iran to the security council should not be interpreted, even conjecturally, as a harbinger of action against Iran. Rather, it is a profit-seeking maneuver from Iran's provisional supporters, increasing their leverage over Iran for their own purposes. They will not allow the UN to act, but they can use the UN to gain concessions from Iran; the outcome will be, not sanctions or regime change, but a flurry of export contracts and infrastructure deals.

[HT: McQ&O. This post is expanded from a comment I made there.]