Commentary Magazine


Iran Haggles

I know it’s hard to believe, but Iran appears to be playing games in Geneva. Reuters reports:

Iran declined on Friday to endorse proposals by the UN nuclear watchdog to help reduce Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium. It said it was awaiting a “positive and constructive” response from world powers to its proposal on providing nuclear fuel for a Tehran reactor producing medical isotopes, state television reported.

This is par for the course. You will recall that Iran was given a Friday deadline to agree to the draft deal. But we already know that “deadline” doesn’t mean, you know, a deadline to the Obama administration. Once again the Iranians are demonstrating what little regard they have for the administration’s word.

And let’s be clear, even if Iran accepted the “deal” to have some of its enriched uranium shipped to France or Russia for re-purposing for peaceful uses,  we’d spend endless time negotiating over the details. And, moreover, Iran maintains that even with such a deal, it still would have the right to proceed with its weapons program. (As this report explains, “Tehran could replace 2,600 pounds of low-enriched uranium “in little over a year.”) The agreement, as others have noted, even if consummated and enforced, “doesn’t prevent Iran from enriching uranium, a capability Iranian officials have made clear they don’t intend to relinquish.”

But this is what Obama-style engagement is all about — haggling over something that doesn’t solve the problem. It becomes increasingly hard to see what purpose, other than providing cover for Iran and taking the onus for action off of Obama, these talks are serving.