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I was reading the following report on the NY Times, and came across the following:

The goal has to be to shut down all of the program that gives Iran the capability to build a bomb. The United Nations Security Council ordered that all enrichment should be ended six years ago, but the major powers were right to start the talks with a more short-term goal: to stop the most dangerous kind of enrichment.

Since the part in bold refers to a past wish and should possibly use the should have construction, how could this be justified instead? And how is it different from the should have one?

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I think Shoe has it right. The original was “demands that Iran shall end”, and so when shifted into the past becomes “demands that Iran should end”. Throwing it into the passive is where the “should be ended” then comes from. – tchrist Jun 23 '12 at 16:14
I don't know whether to mark Shoe or jwpat7. Both seems to be making sense. – Noah Jun 24 '12 at 11:31

Presumably the article refers to UN Security Council Resolution 1696, 31 July 2006, which "demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment activities". That is, the article's phrase "ordered that all enrichment should be ended six years ago" should instead be "ordered six years ago that all enrichment should be ended". The sentence refers not to a past possibility, but to a fact.

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Where is the fact? That they demanded that Iran suspend enrichment? The demand part is a fact, but the suspend part isn’t. – tchrist Jun 23 '12 at 16:04
@tchrist, the first phrase quoted in answer is from wikipedia. Resolution 1696 "demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, which would be verified by the IAEA" (quoting wikipedia) and Resolution 1737 of 23 December 2006 imposed sanctions. The NYT article states the fact that in 2006 UNSC ordered Iran to end its uranium enrichment operations. – jwpat7 Jun 23 '12 at 16:20

It's very odd. I'd have expected should have been ended or, perhaps better, should have ended.


I think jwpat7 has the right answer.

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In 2006, six years ago, the United Nations Security Council issued a resolution containing the following words:

2. Demands, in this context, that Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including reserach and development, to be verified by the IAEA.

The NY Times is reporting this demand, changing the verb to order and using the typical backshift to make shall into should. The NYT also chooses to use the passive, making all enrichment the subject and omitting the agent (Iran). So instead of:

  • The United Nations Security Council ordered that Iran should end all enrichment ...

it becomes:

  • The United Nations Security Council ordered that all enrichment should be ended ...

Putting the time adverbial at the beginning of the sentence would have precluded the possibility of readers thinking that six years ago refers to the ending of the enrichment, rather than the passing of the resolution.

  • Six years ago the United Nations Security Council ordered that all enrichment should be ended, but ... .
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If you’re seeking simplicity, “ordered all enrichment ended” would be more felicitous. – tchrist Jun 23 '12 at 16:05

A Verb like "order," (or "demand," "urge," "recommend" etc.) belongs to the Subjunctive. And so it would be used like this:

order that S + V

But the Verb of the Clause will be in base form.

order that the prisoner be freed

This will be true even if the sentence was written in the Past:

ordered that the prisoner be freed

You might've gotten your example from a British source coz it uses "should" together with the base verb.

But still, "should" will not be changed to "should have" in the Subjunctive.

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Oh, your source the NYT is definitely not British. But the explanation still holds: Americans use the base verb in the Subjunctive while the British normally add "should" – Cool Elf Jun 23 '12 at 12:45

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