President Obama is not to be trusted with his plan for diplomacy with Iran because he has already moved the goalposts. Before the negotiations have even begun, he has already ceded a major point to Iran. He has said that he will not demand that Iran cease its enrichment of uranium, the process essential to the production of a nuclear bomb. Obama has said that he will approve of Iran’s demand that it be allowed to enrich uranium up to 5%.
That sounds like not a big deal. Wrong. It is a big deal because, given Iran’s extensive research on and enrichment of nuclear material, it is but a small step to jump from 5% enrichment to the production of a nuclear bomb. That’s what the experts say.
Fifty-nine US senators back a new sanctions bill, the essence of which is the prohibition of any enrichment of uranium by Iran — the closing down of Iran’s nuclear program, the refusal to allow enrichment up to 5%.
This is the real reason why Obama threatens to veto this new sanctions bill, if it passes. (Despite the majority in favor of the bill, it hasn’t been passed, apparently because it is not veto-proof; that is, it does not have the support of 67 US senators. The House already passed a similar bill.)
The reason to veto the bill cannot plausibly be that it would derail negotiations with Iran because, at best, the new sanctions would not go into effect for six months — after the negotiations end. No additional sanctions would be put in place during the negotiations. So by being so adamant that he would veto a bill, Obama is saying: Do not make me demand that Iran close down its uranium enrichment program. That is why the president is not trustworthy on Iran.
The president said during his State of the Union address earlier this week: “For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.” No one would dispute that, if it were the case that the administration’s definition of “success” and “failure” were not elastic. With Obama, the definition of success is elastic indeed.
Umpteen times in the past five years the president has declared that he will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, but all these declarations have not stopped him, even in advance of negotiations with Iran, from denouncing 59 US senators’ demand that Iran must cease the enrichment of uranium altogether. This is also Israel’s position, which Obama has also denounced.
To allow Iran to keep a live, active, engaged, focused enrichment of uranium is rather like declaring a success of negotiators with terrorist hostage takers, even if they do not release the hostages, just because they promise not to shoot. Sorry, but if Iran is allowed to enrich up to 5% — from which, again, it is but a short jump to a nuclear weapon —a promise not to develop a nuclear weapon is no better than a terrorist’s promise not to shoot.
It is no better for two reasons:
• The terrorist may shoot. Iran may, too. Iran has already violated countless UN resolutions; why shouldn’t it violate a new agreement?
• Even if Iran did not violate an agreement not to enrich greater than 5%, diplomacy would still be an abject failure for a reason acknowledged by no less than President Obama himself: It is not only Iran’s use or acquisition of a nuclear weapons that destabilizes the Middle East and threatens Israel. It is Iran’s potential to develop a nuclear weapon.
It is Iran’s threat to do so.
It is Iran’s capacity to do so.
It is precisely this Iranian threat that motivates Saudi Arabia and Egypt (and others) to see it as a necessity for their countries to start their own nuclear program.
It is the sword of Damocles hanging over Israel’s head that motivates Israel to contemplate unilateral military action against Iran.
Nothing less than the closure of Iran’s nuclear program will remove the destabilization of the Middle East that Iran embodies. Iran, right now, feels free to export weapons to terrorists in Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and elsewhere. Iran is emboldened. Its nuclear pursuit — not its realization — enables this.
Not to mention: Sanctions are a blunt instrument against Iran. But that is hardly the ideal. The ideal would be for the sanctions to stop, for the Iranian economy to thrive, for all who trade with Iran to thrive. That won’t happen if Iran retains the right to enrich uranium.
A diplomatic agreement that limits Iran to 5% enrichment will be declared a success by Obama, but will not remove the threat that Iran poses, the destabilization that it promotes, the terrorism that it supports, the hatred of Israel that it stokes.
That is why Obama is not trustworthy on Iran. That is why diplomacy, at least if conducted by the Obama administration, is doomed to . . . success, as Obama would redefine it.
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