As Rick notes, think-tank scholars, international diplomats, and ordinary people can all see that Iran engagement has been a bust. Just as Hillary Clinton was touting Iran engagement — despite its failure to unclench any fists — the Iranian mullahs were delivering another slap in the face of the Obami suitors:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered his country’s atomic agency on Sunday to begin the production of higher enriched uranium, a move that’s likely to deepen international skepticism about the country’s real intentions on the crucial issue of enriched uranium.
While Clinton prattles on about an open door, and the Foggy Bottom spokesmen reference vague consequences to befall the Iranians if they don’t start demonstrating their desire to “join the community of nations” (or something like that), the resident grown-up in the Obama administration, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, was signaling that the jig is up for engagement. (“Speaking to reporters during a weeklong European tour, Mr. Gates said that ‘if the international community will stand together and bring pressure’ on Iran, ‘I believe there is still time for sanctions to work.'”) But even Gibbs is compelled to parrot the Obama line that those crippling sanctions can’t be too crippling because the Iranian people might get mad at us. (Really, do supporters of the administration’s policy suppose that the democracy advocates marching and dying in the streets have not figured out the source of their oppression?)
The latest development follows only a week after the Iranians were seen trying to lure us back to the bargaining table. Well, never mind that. Another week and another threat:
In what was interpreted to be a possible shift of policy on a major issue, Mr. Ahmadinejad said last week he was ready to export his country’s low-enriched uranium for higher enrichment abroad, saying Iran had “no problem” with the plan. Sunday’s comments, however, appeared to justify the skepticism with which his Tuesday’s comments were met by world leaders.
Mr. Salehi, the head of the Iranian atomic energy agency, later appeared to play down the significance of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments. He told the official IRNA news agency the president was giving a “preparedness order” so Iran would be ready to enrich its uranium if the exchange with the West fails to take place.
He said the higher enrichment would be carried out in facilities in the central Iranian town of Natanz.
It takes a lot of foot-dragging and indifference to all available evidence for the Obami to maintain their fixation on negotiation and to delay imposition of any serious sanctions that might impact the regime’s nuclear ambitions. You would think a full month after the self-imposed end-of-year deadline, which followed the self-imposed September deadline, the Obama team would finally get serious. But no.
As a sharp Capitol Hill adviser described Clinton’s embarrassing outing on Sunday: “I’m sure that she has a sure fire containment strategy ready.” That, unfortunately, is where I suspect they are heading — having frittered a year away, whittled down sanctions, and disparaged any military option. After all, Clinton told us the nuclear threat from Iran really isn’t our primary consideration. We’ll see if Obama goes down in history as the president who allowed the revolutionary Islamic regime to go nuclear and who let the Iranian democracy movement die on the vine. Quite a legacy that would be.