Monday, September 29, 2014

Iran makes the rules and Obama acquiesces.

Iran Makes the Rules

Tehran holds firm while the U.S. keeps making nuclear concessions.

President Obama sucked up most of the media oxygen at the United Nations last week with his call for collective action against the Islamic State and other jihadists. But if anyone made real news from the General Assembly's green-marble podium, it was Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. The fabled Iranian moderate's unsubtle message: You'll play by our rules now.
"The people of Iran," he said, "cannot place trust in any security cooperation between their government and those who have imposed sanctions." That was a kick in the shins to U.S. diplomats who have made little secret of their desire to make common cause with Tehran against the Islamic State—albeit a kick dressed up as an inducement to lift the sanctions. It follows Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's claim last week that Secretary of State John Kerry is "lying" about the nature of U.S. overtures toward Iran. How's that for improving the diplomatic mood music?
Mr. Rouhani also gave no ground on nuclear negotiations, whose latest deadline is late November, in time for the lame duck Congress in case Republicans retake the chamber. Iran would continue to enrich uranium, said Mr. Rouhani, never mind Security Council resolutions demanding a suspension of enrichment.
He also claimed that Iran had honored its obligations under the interim nuclear agreement. That's despite a report this month from the International Atomic Energy Agency noting that Tehran continued to stymie its efforts to investigate the "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear program. "These activities," the IAEA reported, "are likely to have further undermined the Agency's ability to conduct effective verification."
All of this explains why nuclear negotiations have gone nowhere after nearly a year—and after President Obama made a point of quashing a Congressional effort to revive sanctions if Iran fails to negotiate in good faith. Harder to explain is why the Administration is now seeking ever more creative ways to give the mullahs what they want. 
The latest Administration brainstorm is to abandon the longstanding demand that Iran dismantle its uranium-enriching centrifuges, of which it currently has installed about 10,000, with an additional 9,000 built. Under one Western proposal, Iran would merely be asked to disconnect some of the pipes connecting one centrifuge to the next. Another idea, according to the Associated Press, is to allow Iran to keep as many as 4,500 centrifuges, provided Iran agrees to enrich uranium at a lower rate. 
Then there are Iran's ballistic missiles, an essential component of its nuclear-weapons program. Security Council Resolution 1929 "decides that Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons." Yet over the summer Mr. Khamenei called on his Revolutionary Guards to mass-produce ballistic missiles, and now the Administration is looking for an accommodation.
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told a House committee in July that Resolution 1929 is "not about ballistic missiles per se," but about nuclear-armed missiles. But that ignores that a ballistic missile that can carry a conventional warhead, or a satellite, can also carry a nuclear warhead.
The larger problem is that these diplomatic gambits rest on the fanciful notion that the same regime that is stonewalling the IAEA can be trusted not to reconnect its centrifuges on short notice or increase their rates of uranium production or develop more powerful rockets. Iran has spent a decade taking advantage of the diplomatic process to buy time and advance its nuclear programs.
"The Iranian nuclear game is to compromise on the elements of the program they've already perfected in order to gain time on the elements they haven't," says Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "They've perfected enrichment so they can suspend it for the time being. What they've gained in exchange is time to work on advanced centrifuge R&D. The more efficient the centrifuges, the fewer they need; the fewer they need, the easier they are to hide."
All this is happening while America's attention has been consumed by the rise of the Islamic State and Vladimir Putin's depredations in Europe. But permitting Iran to get to the edge of nuclear capability would be the worst setback to U.S. and world security so far in the Obama era, which is saying something. Members of both parties on Capitol Hill need to start speaking up about the Administration's dangerous concessions to Iran's rules.

No comments: