By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey. Their bottom line:
So far U.S.-led efforts to have the Security Council directly condemn and impose sanctions on Iran under Chapter VII for its nuclear ambitions have not succeeded. That's why seeking the council's intervention on Iran's illegal threats to use force makes excellent diplomatic sense. Such an approach would provide multiple and reinforcing benefits.
First, it would broaden the international dialogue beyond Tehran's breach of nonproliferation obligations, focusing on the real underlying problem: the bellicose nature of the Iranian regime and the use it might make of nuclear weapons. And since Tehran's violations of the U.N. Charter are, by their nature, issues that can be handled only by the Security Council, bringing them to the council would counter Iran's efforts to displace the U.N. framework in favor of direct negotiations with the European Union and the United States. Indeed, a serious debate on Ahmadinejad's illegal threat would give the United States a unique opportunity to focus the Security Council on the shrill anti-Israeli rhetoric emanating not just from Iran but also from numerous other Islamic countries. This rhetoric fosters regional tensions and nurtures the dangerous "jihadist" sentiments.
Second, demands that Iran withdraw its threat and acknowledge its obligation to peacefully resolve any dispute it may have with Israel would be firmly grounded in international law -- so much so that Security Council members Russia and China would be hard-pressed to oppose the effort. Both of those countries have routinely cloaked their objections to E.U.-U.S. policy toward Iran in the language of international law, arguing, for example, that Iran has a legal right to pursue civilian nuclear activities. No country, of course, is entitled to violate the U.N. Charter.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is how the U.N. system was, and is, supposed to work. When a clear threat to peace arises, it is incumbent upon the Security Council to act in defense of the threatened party to head off the unilateral use of force and to advance "collective security." This imperative is particularly compelling when the very legitimacy of the threatened party and its right to independent national existence have been challenged. Such a challenge goes beyond the violation of Article 2.4 and raises the specter of the most heinous international crimes, including genocide.