"To jaw-jaw," Winston Churchill once wisely said, "is always better than to war-war." Anyone who has seen war up close would agree with Sir Winston, who saw a lot of shooting wars. But obstinate mullahs in Iran push that proposition to the max. Western nations will resume jawing with Tehran on Tuesday over what to do about the mullahs' race to the bomb. If past is prologue, talking them out of acquiring atomic weapons will continue to be the impossible dream.
Representatives from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China join at the negotiating table in Kazakhstan in a last-ditch attempt to persuade Iran to halt the process of enriching uranium in return for an easing of international trade sanctions. Negotiations have been ongoing for years, including three conversations in 2012 that produced only opportunities for talkers on both sides to pose for the photographers. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly told his people, in clear and unmistakable terms, that nothing can dissuade Iran from its goal of becoming a nuclear state. The stakes are far too high to assume he's bluffing.
In the days leading to a resumption of talks, Iran took several steps to strengthen its bargaining position. On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Tehran had installed 180 next-generation centrifuges at its Natanz facility, capable of accelerating uranium enrichment to weapons-grade uranium to 20 percent purity, a significant marker on the road to a nuclear weapon. Two days later, Iran said it had discovered large uranium deposits within its borders. The timing of these claims continues a pattern of in-your-face challenges to the West. This has been government mullah-style since the Shah was deposed in 1979.
Mr. Obama has vowed Iran would not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, but vows have not persuaded Iran to fear the words. Presidential spokesman Jay Carney sounded tough on Thursday: "What we have said and remains true today is that the window remains open for this to be resolved diplomatically, but that window will not remain open indefinitely. And we have been very clear with the Iranians about that, and we encourage them to come to these talks ready to speak seriously about abiding by their international obligations."
Iran has no fear of what happens after the window is closed, because the doves have driven the hawks from this White House. Mr. Obama is very fond of his ability with his jaw, and once his hollowing out of the American military is done, "jaw-jaw" will be about all that's left. America will be incapable of projecting power across the world. As Mr. Obama pursues his vision of a nuclear-free world, Iran continues its goal of a U.S.-free world, calculating that the superpower will cede global leadership to the fittest contestant.
The threshold of 20 percent uranium enrichment is crossed only by nations building nuclear bombs. By doing so, Iran signals it has passed the point of no return. The consequences will soon be at hand.
The Washington Times
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