The top United Nations nuclear watchdog said Tuesday that Iran had tentatively agreed to allow international inspections of sites believed to be connected to nuclear weapons research. The potentially significant breakthrough, on the eve of the opening of new Iran nuclear negotiations being held in Baghdad, come after the U.S. and Europe imposed harsh sanctions aimed at drying up income from oil sales that Tehran desperately needs. Is this a sign that the increased pressure is causing the Iranian regime to buckle?
In a word, no. As The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg explains:
What does this mean? It means that Iran has found an easy way to create the appearance of progress so that it may pursue its main goal of the moment, which is to forestall an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities by convincing President Obama and other Western leaders that it is serious about compromise. If Obama and other leaders are convinced they are making genuine progress with Iran, the pressure on Israel to postpone military action will become overwhelming. When Iran agrees to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, or agrees to shutter its centrifuge facility near Qom, that's when you can start paying attention.Goldberg hits the nail on the head here. Unfortunately, he hits his thumb with this next paragraph:
The Obama Administration understands this, of course. Critics on the right believe that Obama will cave and agree to a deal that would allow Iran to continue down the path toward nuclearization, but these critics are misreading Obama, and his seriousness on this issue. On the other hand, Obama disagrees with the Israeli position, which is, no enrichment whatsoever, but the Israeli stance is more of a bargaining point than anything else. It's hard to believe the Israelis would attack if Iran were only enriching uranium to 3.5 percent.Not really, because given the easy availability of non-nuclear energy in Iran, it's hard to believe the Iranian mullahs would want nuclear power for anything but military purposes.
And if critics are indeed "misreading Obama and his seriousness on this issue," then Obama has no one but himself to blame. In 2009 he had a chance to topple the mullahs and remove the Iranian problem once and for all. He refused. He has consistently displayed a willingness to let the mullahs remain in power if they give up their nuclear ambitions.
But the problem is not those nuclear ambitions. It is the mullahs themselves and their Islamism, as it has been since Jimmy Carter allowed those thugs to take power in 1979. Until Obama, the Democrats and, indeed, the entire foreign policy establishment accept this fact, we will be playing the role of Neville Chamberlain.