- - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The absurdity of the negotiations with Iran grows ever more self evident. What we know of what President Obama is cooking up is very little, so carefully have the negotiations been kept in the shadows. But that little we know smells ever more rank.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has never made more than a token effort to enforce anti-proliferation agreements, reveals that Iran’s nuclear fuel stockpile is growing, and swiftly. In the past 18 months that stockpile has grown by more than 20 percent. During that time, the White House has insisted that the preliminary Joint Plan of Action Agreement between the Islamic Republic and the West, made in November 2013, put a cap on Iran’s nuclear work and moved toward a final agreement to halt work on an Islamic bomb.

But now, only a month before the completion of that final agreement, the IAEA calculations give the lie to President Obama’s insistence that his negotiations had, temporarily at least, halted Iran’s race to build nuclear weapons.

Further, the prospective final deal would reduce the Iranian stockpile to 300 kilograms of nuclear fuel, less than required for a single bomb. That means Tehran would have to rid itself of nine tons of enriched uranium fuel. No one knows how to do that, or would expect the mullahs to do what they promise. They never have. The mullahs long ago ignored their agreement with the old Soviet Union, as a condition of buying a reactor, to ship certain fuel byproducts back to Moscow.

Having backed away from the idea of restricting Iran’s capability to make nuclear weapons to merely accepting the mullahs’ word that they would not do so, Mr. Obama’s growing chorus of critics have a new concern. Size matters, and the size of Iran’s nuclear fuel stockpile would be decisive in calculating how much time would be required to put a bomb together. That “breakout” calculation has become the foolish argument between Mr. Obama and his congressional critics. A political judgment of whether the mullahs could be trusted to abide by any such self-imposed schedule is the paramount issue.

The IAEA notes that no progress has been made to implement resolutions of the United Nations Security Council demanding answers to questions about “weaponization.” The IAEA says that Tehran has not even suggested ways to conform to United Nations demands.

The IAEA says that given the missing intelligence, it can’t make a judgment on whether Iran is moving toward producing weapons.

The combination of Washington having lifted some economic sanctions — apparently the only way to restrain the mullahs short of military intervention — and the false White House claims of making progress in restraining Tehran, has led already to diplomatic disaster. Washington’s nominal allies in the Persian Gulf, and a disgruntled Egypt and Turkey are showing disdain for American leadership and may be looking to their own security resources.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to scold, but he most of all will have to decide what happens if there is no “good agreement.” Israel is, after all, a continued target of the mullahs, who may be blowhards but they have made repeated threats to “wipe Israel off the map,” and may soon have the weapon to do it.

President Obama continues to issue improbable declarations of progress in the negotiations, or ask for further extensions of time to make more improbable promises (speaking of blowing hard). The region and the world slide closer to an abyss of unknown depth and size.

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