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Friday, October 19, 2012

Obama's Weakness on Iran Has Made War More Likely, Not Less

In June 2008, I happened to be traveling through Washington D.C. on the day then-Sen. Barack Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In line at the airport ticket counter, I encountered some of those who had attended. They were giddy with excitement. “What did he say about a nuclear Iran?” I asked one woman. “Oh,” she reassured me. “All options are on the table,” she reassured me, beaming.

Apparently those options included letting Iran become a nuclear power. Since 2009, according to the Nonproliferation Education Policy Center, Iran has tripled its uranium enrichment, and is rapidly developing enough fissile material to create one or more nuclear weapons. The Obama administration placed great hope in repeated rounds of failed talks earlier this year, despite Israel’s warning that Iran was merely buying time.

President Obama claims credit for economic sanctions that are hurting Iran’s economy. But those sanctions have failed to stop Iran’s nuclear program. And Obama dragged his feet the entire way, delaying the approval of some sanctions and carving out waivers for Russian and Chinese companies in others, earning rebukes from his fellow Democrats.

Both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, in his recent debate with Rep. Paul Ryan, have rejected Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s idea of a “red line” of 90% enrichment, beyond which Iran would face military action. They have also failed to impose any kind of deadline for Iran to comply with international demands. In 2008, Obama promised “tough diplomacy,” but what he has delivered is anything but.

The Obama administration tried, indirectly, to claim undue credit for the Stuxnet virus that interfered with Iranian nuclear centrifuges. It did so through unprecedented and illegal leaks of secret information from the White House to the press, causing bipartisan outrage in Congress and pushback from Israeli officials. Regardless, Iran overcame the Stuxnet virus and its centrifuges have continued to enrich uranium at new facilities.

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