The Stalling Game

The Israeli government is calling foul, claiming the International Atomic Energy Agency is hiding the ball on the full extent of Iran’s nuclear program:

The statement alleges that an IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear energy program released on Friday “does not reflect the entirety of the information the IAEA holds on Iran’s efforts to advance their military program, nor their continued efforts to conceal and deceive and their refusal to cooperate with the IAEA and the international community.”

In the IAEA report released Friday, the UN nuclear watchdog says Iran’s nuclear energy program may contain “military dimensions.”

In other words, the IAEA report states that Iran may be working towards acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. The report was issued just prior to the annual meeting of IAEA member states which is scheduled to convene next month in Vienna.

According to this news account, the IAEA report is worded “ambiguously” with regard to Iran’s military ambitions and potential uses. The IAEA pleads that Iran is stonewalling; the Israelis say the IAEA isn’t doing its job.

The Jerusalem Post also reports:

IAEA officials said Iran was stonewalling the agency about “possible military dimensions” to its program. In the report, the IAEA said it has pressed Iran to clarify its uranium enrichment activities and reassure the world that it’s not trying to build an atomic weapon.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a prepared statement that the latest IAEA report, released Friday, “accuses Iran of defying [UN] Security Council decisions, but at the same time hides actual Iranian violations on its path toward military nuclear capability,” “This is a harsh report, but it does not reflect all the information possessed by the IAEA on Iranian efforts to advance its military program, on its continuing efforts to hide and deceive, and on [Iran’s] noncooperation with the IAEA and the demands of the international community,” the statement read.

Well, you can see where this is heading — endless rounds of protestations by the Iranians, meek objections by the IAEA, and Israeli demands for clarity from the IAEA and action by the U.S. and the West. The ball will be in the Obama administration’s court. Will they get sucked into an endless round of arguments about what should be in the IAEA report and whether Iran has defied its obligations — or will the Obama team finally draw a line in the sand?

And then what? We’ve been waiting to see that “smart diplomacy” in action and find out how Obama can translate his dreamy persona into diplomatic progress. So let’s see if he has both the nerve and the skill to put an end to Iran’s jockeying and line up the international community behind some meaningful action to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions, provided, of course, there is any action at this stage that might be meaningful.