Commentary Magazine


Iran’s Lies Are Matched by Obama’s

Yesterday, we discussed the latest attempt by the West to entice Iran to resume negotiations over the future of their nuclear program. Those talks, being conducted by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the head of the P5+1 group that includes the United States, were described as “useful and constructive” and were thought to be the prelude to further efforts to break the impasse over Tehran’s push for nuclear weapons later this month in New York, when the United Nations General Assembly convenes. But the same day that Lady Ashton was breaking bread with a representative of the Islamist regime in Istanbul, the head of Iran’s nuclear project was quoted in the London daily Al Hayat as confessing, or should we say bragging, that his country has repeatedly lied to the West in past exchanges about the subject.

As Haaretz reports, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran told Al Hayat that the regime had provided false information to the International Atomic Energy Agency in order to protect their “nuclear facilities and achievements.”

“Sometimes we provided false information since there was no other choice but to mislead other intelligence agencies; sometimes we made ourselves appear weak and at other times we reported issues that made us appear strongly than we really were, he said, adding: “Ultimately it became exposed when inspectors directly asked us about these issues.”

He said such deceptions were necessary in order to prevent the IAEA’s investigation from aiding efforts to isolate and sanction Iran. These motivations are quite obvious and even understandable. The Iranians know the world is on to their plans for nuclear weapons and wish to do everything they can to throw the IAEA off the scent. What isn’t understandable is why the United States and its European partners would choose to enter into any diplomatic process with Iran that is predicated on Iran telling the truth about its facilities and keeping their word should any compromise deal ever be reached. That is why the insistence of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton that diplomacy be given even more time is inexplicable if they mean what they say about wanting to stop Iran.

Davani’s taunting of the West reflects an interesting dynamic in the ongoing negotiations with Iran. In a diplomatic dance that started before President Obama took office, we have repeatedly seen Western efforts to broker an agreement with Iran on nuclear issues founder on this same problem. Iran pretends to want to talk. Iran lies to the West about what it is doing on the ground and about what it may be willing to agree to and then reneges on any agreement and announces further progress toward its nuclear goal.

In the course of just the last year, the IAEA has found that Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges enriching uranium that can be used for a bomb and that these machines are now operating in hardened underground bunkers that may be invulnerable to attack. This “achievement” was bought with Iranian lies and Western diplomacy that allowed the process to be strung along while Western leaders said they were working to end the nuclear threat.

Even now, as Iran again starts the dance with Ashton and Obama, they are refusing to give the IAEA permission to inspect their nuclear weapons research site at Parchin and as, Davani noted, “obstruct efforts to bar aerial or satellite photos of these sites.”

But as outraged as the world should be about Iran’s brazen deceptions, it must be admitted that the ayatollahs’ representatives are not the biggest liars in this drama. Western leaders who continue to insist they are working to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons but nevertheless play along with Iran’s deceptions are the real deceivers here.

It is one thing for Iran to tell open and obvious lies about what all the world knows to be true about their nuclear project. It is quite another for President Obama and Secretary Clinton to play along while telling the American people that a “window of diplomacy” still exists to end the nuclear threat, or to chide Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for sounding the alarm about the refusal of the United States to declare “red lines” that will trigger action rather than further talk about the problem.

The longer the United States allows its representatives and surrogates to play a part in this diplomatic farce, the less likely it is that there is any chance to stop Iran. The falsehoods being pronounced on this issue in Washington by leaders who pretend to be steadfast in their determination to halt the nuclear threat are no less reprehensible than those emanating from Tehran.

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