The United States managed to win Security Council approval for new sanctions against Iran this week, but don't bet that this will slow down Iran's drive to acquire nuclear capability.
The Security Council vote may be a diplomatic victory for the Obama administration, but it falls short as an effective mechanism to deter Iran from its quest for nukes. The administration labored mightily to build a coalition for a resolution that would make it harder for Iran to obtain nuclear technology and finance commercial operations -- without drawing a veto from Russia and China, Iran's trade and investment partners.
The new sanctions restrict the ability of Iran's banks to finance international deals. They add Iranian companies to the names on the commercial embargo. Nations are authorized to inspect cargo ships bound for Iran suspected of carrying nuclear material.
But winning Russian and Chinese support came at the cost of the "crippling" sanctions Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton originally sought. The result is a watered-down resolution with limited effect. Neither a Russian-assisted nuclear plant in Iran nor Chinese investment in Iranian oil fields will be affected by the sanctions. The Iranian economy will not be seriously harmed.
It's unlikely that the Security Council resolution -- the fourth and stiffest set of sanctions imposed against Iran for its reckless behavior -- will bring the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the negotiating table. The Iranian leader dismissed the new sanctions as "annoying flies, like a used tissue." His U.N. envoy, Mohammad Khazaee, vowed that Iran would not be deterred.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.