Obama’s nuke test
An Iranian bomb threatens the whole world
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, May 18, 2014, 4:05 AM
The Iranian Chessmaster
It is truth and consequences time for President Obama and leaders of five world powers in striking a deal that would definitively end Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons .The President will have to do a whole lot better than he has of late on the international front, most especially in his attempt to talk Syrian dictator Bashar Assad into surrendering his chemical weapons.Obama cut U.S. stature off at the knees last August when he suddenly backed down from missile strikes on Assad’s stockpiles and joined Russia in a tag-team deal with the strongman. While the President has pointed to successes in destroying the Assad arsenal, France and Human Rights Watch now assert that Assad used chlorine gas in attacks against his own people last month. At the same time, there is growing skepticism that Syria will fully surrender its weapons and dismantle its chemical factories.
Rather astoundingly, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius expressed regret that Obama failed to unleash the missiles after Assad broke the President’s infamously drawn red line. He said that France had been ready to support such an attack.
Here’s hoping that Obama learned tough lessons from his disastrous Syrian misadventure, because the issues at the table in the Iranian negotiations are quite parallel.
There, too, against even higher stakes, Obama misguidedly eased off on the weapon at hand — economic sanctions — to bring Iran to talking about reducing (not eliminating) its capacity to rapidly produce weapons-grade uranium along with a missile delivery system.
The negotiations, joined by Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, have now reached the stage of actually putting facts down on paper. In other words, it’s reality time.
Unwisely beating back congressional drives to increase sanctions, Obama has vested faith that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will subscribe to a narrowly limited nuclear program — one that would get close international scrutiny and could not produce weapons without a long build-up.
Purportedly to develop nuclear power, Iran is using some 10,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium, has an additional 9,000 ready to go and wants even more. The U.S. wants to trim the number to an overly generous few thousand.
Meantime, Iran has several tons of low-enriched uranium at the ready. Again, the country wants more — oh, say 30 tons. Again, the U.S. and negotiating partners want far less.
Then there’s the question of Iran’s fortified nuclear facilities, its refusal to cooperate with international inspectors, the critical need for Rouhani to come clean on his country’s development of warheads and a need for the absolute certainty of full, untrammeled scrutiny.
A half-measure will not suffice on any of those fronts — and on many more. Based on the attitude of Iran’s real power, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Obama will be lucky to get even that far. Consider these recent words:
“They expect us to limit our missile program while they constantly threaten Iran with military action,” Khamenei said. “So this is a stupid, idiotic expectation. The Revolutionary Guards should definitely carry out their program and not be satisfied with the present level. They should mass produce.”
Even Rouhani, too often and too easily described as a “moderate,” had this to say on the eve of the talks:
“Iran will not retreat one step in the field of nuclear technology. We have nothing to put on the table and offer to them but transparency. That’s it. Our nuclear technology is not up for negotiation.”
Up against hardliners, Obama is once more negotiating from a position of self-imposed weakness. That’s why Israel, Iran’s sure target, is terrified, along with many of the Arab countries. To be sure, the administration has said that no deal is better than a bad deal. But right now, given the President’s track record, a bad deal seems more likely.