April 30, 2010

What Happened to U.S. Deadline on Iran?

By Dore Gold

Iran’s recent proposal to the West did not provide any opening for serious negotiations on the nuclear issue, but rather vague formulations for the agenda of any future talks. Back in July, when the G-8 announced that the opening of the UN General Assembly “would be an occasion for taking stock of the situation in Iran,” most international observers understood that there was a hard September deadline that Iran had to meet to begin serious nuclear negotiations.

Unfortunately, at this stage, there is little evidence that the Obama administration is about to adopt effective action in a timely manner in light of Iran’s policy of rejectionism, setting aside diplomatic engagement and moving to a policy of severe sanctions.

Glyn Davies, the U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently acknowledged that the Iranian stockpile of low-enriched uranium has already reached a sufficient level so that it was possible to talk about Tehran having “a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity.” Tehran undoubtedly observed that no serious action was taken against North Korea for its nuclear breakout, either by the Bush or Obama administrations.

The common assumption in Washington policy circles today is that even if Iran reaches the nuclear finish-line, the U.S. can fall back on the same Cold War deterrence that was used against the Soviet nuclear arsenal. However, Iran is a true revolutionary power whose aspirations extend into the oil-producing states. It is involved in both the Afghan and Iraqi insurgencies, while its support for terrorism reaches into Lebanon, Gaza, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. With Iran threatening the flow of oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz as well, through which roughly 40 percent of the world’s oil flows, the nuclearization of Iran has global and not just Middle Eastern implications.

In 2003-2005, Tehran engaged with the EU-3 for two years, exploiting the talks to race ahead with construction of key uranium enrichment facilities, while fending off punitive measures by the UN Security Council for three entire years. And Iran today is far more advanced than it was then and the time for diplomatic experimentation is extremely limited.

Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in 1997-1999. He is the author of the newly-released book The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West (Regnery,

Missed Deadlines on Iran Show Obama Weakness

By Donald G. Mashburn

President Barack Obama has made it a habit to generate a lot of words on a given topic and later backtrack on a promise or change positions without it bothering him. He seems to have carried that habit into his lack of action on Iran’s nuclear program. The better part of a year has passed since the president said that by the end of 2009 he expected to know if diplomatic efforts would persuade Iran to end its nuclear program.

As time passed, and Obama became more attentive to his political agenda, a missed deadline didn’t appear to bother the president. Last May, referring to possible actions against Iran, Obama said, “We’re not going to talk forever.

It seems that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasn’t impressed with either Obama’s words or his deadline. The Iranian president was reported to have said Iran would ignore as many deadlines as it wanted, saying, “We don’t care.”

Iran’s continuation of its nuclear program is a clear indication that it does not consider Obama’s words to have any real weight. Worse, Obama has weakened not only the posture of the U.S. in Ahmadinejad’s eyes, but by his use of empty words, coupled with his backhanded treatment of Israel, Obama has sent a message to Iran that military action is less of an option against Iran’s nuclearization efforts.

It’s not as if Obama, who came to office without any executive experience, has no guidance regarding Iran. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned in a memo that the U.S. lacked a long-term strategy in dealing with Iran. We can presume that seasoned military men, such as General David Petraeus, will make their views known, also.

It is hoped that these and other more seasoned heads, who might be more worried about our national security than with Obama’s political agenda, might provide wise counsel to this young, inexperienced president.