A Nuclear Iran No Big Deal?

As he has before, Obama made clear today that he is very worried about terrorists’ getting hold of nuclear weapons:

Groups like al Qaeda are working hard to acquire nuclear weapons, and “if they ever succeed, they would surely use it,” President Barack Obama said while speaking to more than 40 world leaders Tuesday.

Hmm. Isn’t the most likely conduit for terrorists a nuclear-armed Iran? No, no. Obama assures us that the risks from other nuclear-armed states has gone down. No, really:

Obama said that 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the world faces “a cruel irony”: that the risk of “a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.”

“Nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into a nuclear weapon exist in dozens of nations,” Obama said in excerpts released by the White House. “Just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people.”

Obama warned that if al Qaeda or other extremist groups were able to successfully use a nuclear device, it “would be a catastrophe for the world — causing extraordinary loss of life and striking a major blow at global peace and stability.”

The cruel irony here is that we have a president pledging devotion to nonproliferation who has disclaimed interest in a military strike against the greatest potential nuclear threat we face and who is trying to pass off watered-down sanctions as an effective response to the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions. Obama called for a “new mindset” and pooh-poohed mere “pledges.” Fair enough. Then why not a firm and unconditional statement that the U.S. will do whatever it takes to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran? Why not encourage Congress to proceed with refined-petroleum sanctions and to make clear to the Russians and Chinese that their support for only gruel-thin sanctions is insufficient? Well, he seems to think Iran’s not really the problem — or that’s the latest gambit to deflect from his failed Iran policy.

Obama is painting himself into a corner with his high-flying rhetoric. Should he permit Iran — the most significant state sponsor of terrorist groups — to attain their nuclear ambitions (a likely outcome unless his policy changes dramatically), he will rightly be identified as the president who most endangered not only Israel’s security but ours as well. Frankly, if Iran goes nuclear, no one is going to buy the notion that it’s no big deal and that the name of the game then is to keep Iran from giving the nukes to their surrogates. Obama’s suggestion that we really need not worry about nation-states is once again confirmation of his unseriousness about thwarting Iran’s nuclear plans.