Monday, May 17, 2010

Good, Short Analysis of Brazilian Turkish Iranian Deal

RE: Mullahs Outfox Obama — Again

Jonathan Tobin - 05.17.2010 - 10:06 AM

The Iranian deal to ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey is another diplomatic defeat for the Obama administration. The notion that this will somehow allay the justified fears of the West about Iran’s nuclear ambitions is, as Jen writes, “preposterous” but not much more absurd than the deal that the Obama administration was prepared to sign on to last fall before Tehran pulled the proverbial rug out from under the president.

The interesting question today is not whether this latest development means that Iran is genuinely interested in compromise or prepared to abandon its quest for a nuclear weapon. No one but a fool would believe such a thing. Rather, the real question is how an administration that presents itself as having learned from its first year in office will react to this end run around their admittedly lackluster effort to put together an international coalition on behalf of sanctions against Iran.

For the past few months, we’ve heard a great deal about how the Obami have drawn conclusions about the way the Iranians reacted to Washington’s yearlong quest for “engagement.” We’ve been given to understand that the administration wasn’t going to be fooled any longer and was preparing to get tough with the Iranians. Yet the suspicion that the co-sponsorship of this latest Iranian effort to evade sanctions by Turkey and Brazil will deter a stiff American response hangs over all speculation about the next step.

As Michael Slackman writes in the New York Times:

Mr. Obama now faces a vexing choice. If he walks away from this deal, it will look like he is rejecting an agreement similar to one he was willing to sign eight months ago. But if he accepts it, many of the urgent issues he has said will have to be resolved with Iran in coming months — mostly over suspected weapons work — will be put on hold for a year or more. Many American officials believe that is Iran’s most pressing goal.

That’s the bottom line for Iran. If the United States accepts this deal, it will mean giving Iran another year’s grace to work toward its goal of nuclear capability. That will be added to the full year Iran gained from Obama’s feckless engagement and the months wasted dithering about sanctions. After this next year we will have given them, we can expect only another attempt at dissimulation to gain Iran’s program as much time as it needs. In other words, despite the avowed determination by both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton that they will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, this process they have helped create will lead inevitably to just that result.

That’s why if Washington really is serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program, the only possible response to this deal is all-out opposition by the United States and its allies. If not, then the president will be acquiescing to a process by which Iran has the ability to indefinitely stall an international response. That is to say that America’s policy will be, like it or not, to simply give Iran a pass and move on to other concerns. And from there it is a very short step to acknowledging that the United States is prepared to live with the Islamist regime in Tehran having a nuclear bomb. That will mean that the only possible hope for a check on Tehran will be the possibility of an Israeli military strike to stave off the existential threat to the Jewish state. That’s a scenario that we know the administration is desperate to avoid. But if they are prepared to meekly accept the Turkish agreement, what arguments can they possibly muster to persuade the Israelis to refrain from defending themselves?

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