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National Security

Obama's Perplexing Iran Dealings

A growing nuclear stockpile and the fox guarding the henhouse.

Allyne Caan · Jun. 4, 2015

Less than one month before the deadline to reach a final nuclear deal with Iran, things are going swimmingly. Or not.

Despite Barack Obama’s announcement that Iran’s nuclear program has been “frozen” during the past 18 months of negotiations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its latest report that Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel has actually grown by about 20% during that time. And according to the Center for Security Policy’s Fred Fleitz, were Iran to enrich this uranium to weapons grade, it would be enough to make at least nine nuclear weapons. How comforting.

The New York Times reported that two potential reasons for the growth are “technical” difficulties preventing Iran from converting some of the uranium into fuel rods for reactors and attempts to gain an “edge” in the event negotiations fail. According to Fleitz, though, it’s what the Times didn’t report that is more troublesome: namely, “serious concerns … that Tehran may be trying to get the international community to allow it to have more centrifuges in a final nuclear agreement by manipulating the output of centrifuges it is currently operating to make them appear less efficient.”

Responding to the Times article, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said the administration was “quite frankly perplexed.” Yes, you read that right. Perplexed. For an administration that has a habit of learning about everything from the “same news reports” that inform the rest of America, this is hardly surprising. Still, “perplexed” is not the adjective most Americans want to hear from the commander in chief’s subordinates when it comes to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. But according to Harf, it’s “absurd” to think the State Department didn’t know about the increase in Iran’s nuclear stockpiles because those numbers go up and down, and, as long as they end up at the right spot, we’re ok. So although reports of the increase are true, they’re “totally inaccurate” Tsk. Tsk. Whatever were we thinking?

Not to worry, though. There is a plan. Six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have supposedly figured out a way to re-impose sanctions on Iran if the state sponsor of terrorism violates the terms of any agreement, which would be shocking, really, given that Iran never breaks its promises. As Reuters reports, any suspected breaches of the agreement would be considered by these super six, as well as — wait for it — Iran, and the group would come up with a non-binding opinion. Binding or not, does anyone really believe Russia and China would call out their pal Iran on violations? It’s the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse.

So, as the days wind down to the June 30 deadline, Iran has amassed fissile material in its nuclear stockpile, China and Russia are set to help play police, and the administration is “perplexed.”

What could top this except Obama’s declaration that a military option is off the table? “I can, I think, demonstrate, not based on any hope, but on facts and evidence and analysis, that the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable tough agreement,” Obama said. “A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it.”

Meanwhile, back in 2013 he had pledged, “I’ve said before and I will repeat that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America.” Apparently, sidling up to Iran has weakened Obama’s rhetorical resolve.

Few actually want to invade Iran, of course, but there’s nothing like exchanging “speak softly and carry a big stick” for “here, take my stick, fill it with weapons-grade uranium and launch it back at me while I promise to do nothing but talk loudly.”

With Iran’s sights set on Israel and four Americans hostages still held in Iranian prisons, Obama’s JV leadership is putting America and the world at risk.

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