The six western nations (including the U.S.) that are negotiating with Iran to stop uranium enrichment have issued an ultimatum (see here) to try to force Iran to comply by July 12. The term ‘negotiating with Iran’ can only be applied in the loosest sense, since Iran is largely a non-participant in the negotiations.
So far, the process has consisted of the six nations describing to Iran a package of incentives and threats. Iran has responded, at least publicly, by pretty much by laughing at them and telling them to shove it. Although diplomats have been very tight-lipped about what the package includes, it would appear to be highly unpersuasive.
Iran certainly has weaknesses that can be exploited, but there is no clear evidence of sufficient will on the part of the rest of the world to do so, especially as far as all of the main players are concerned. The referenced article cites unnamed diplomats in claiming that “Russia and China were closer than ever to supporting the West on U.N. Security Council action - including sanctions …”
Oh, really. That's like saying they wouldn't touch sanctions with a 9½-foot pole rather than with a 10-foot pole. And even if they truly supported sanctions, what would those sanctions be? Something akin to Saddam’s oil for food fiasco? Or perhaps the tidily-wink games that the U.N. Security Council played for months in the run-up to the liberation of Iraq? In fact, is there any example of truly effective sanctions by the U.N.?
Diplomacy is certainly the most desirable method of resolving international conflict. However, diplomacy can only work when a credible military threat exists. A military threat is only credible when there is sufficient military might and the will to use it. Can anyone demonstrate that these elements are in place today, or will be in place by July 12?
Sadly, the current diplomatic ultimatum comes across as implying, “If you don’t stop by July 12, we will be forced to issue another ultimatum.”