- - Sunday, June 7, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Could it be that The New York Times is fed up with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama? The Times — probably the most dogmatically liberal newspaper in the nation — has twice recently reported on its former best friends in strongly critical terms.

First came the late April article detailing some of the principal allegations in Peter Schweizer’s book, “Clinton Cash,” which demonstrated the evident linkage between the flow of tens of millions of dollars to the Clinton foundation — and to Bill Clinton personally — and the key role the State Department played in approving the deals that resulted in Russia taking control of a substantial portion of U.S. uranium mining.

Next came the June 4 article in which The New York Times reported that, despite President Obama’s and Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurances to the contrary, Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium during the past 18 months. The president contended that the Iranian nuclear weapons program has been “frozen” for that period.

So long as Mrs. Clinton’s only titles are preceded by the word “former,” the problems she has created are already a fait accompli. But the dangers posed by completion and signing of the Iran nuclear weapons pact, now scheduled for the end of this month, surpasses them all.

Given the facts of the negotiations, it’s impossible to see how any deal with Iran could possibly benefit American national security or that of any of our allies, especially including Israel, whose very existence Iran has promised often to end.

The facts begin with the manner of the negotiations, which have been going on for several years. The temporary agreement, signed in November 2013, was supposed to freeze Iran’s uranium enrichment, halt its installation of new enrichment centrifuges, and stop work on its heavy-water reactor and plutonium production. Now, as the Times reported, we know that the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations says the enriched uranium supply is increasing, not stopped or decreasing.

Last February, we found out how submissive Mr. Kerry has been to the demands of the Iranians. The Washington Free Beacon reported, citing Iranian news sources, that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s “Supreme Leader,” had instructed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to stop shouting and yelling at Mr. Kerry during negotiation sessions. The report said that Mr. Zarif’s shouting was so forceful that bodyguards entered on several occasions to see if the talks had become violent.

Every time Mr. Zarif shouted at him and he failed to just walk out of the room, Mr. Kerry’s — and America’s — negotiating position grew weaker and Iran’s grew stronger. That has led, directly, to the statements by Ayatollah Khamenei that he will not permit any inspections of Iran’s “military” sites. As recently as May 20, Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Regarding inspections, we have said that we will not let foreigners inspect any military center.”

Mr. Kerry — by telephone or in person — is resuming the Iran talks, desperate to reach a final agreement by the June 30 deadline. Why? No deal can have any credibility without establishing an intense inspection of Iranian facilities by U.S. and U.N. inspectors. No U.S. negotiator, far less the secretary of state, should continue the discussions unless Ayatollah Khamenei withdraws his bar to inspections. But Mr. Kerry will, nevertheless. Broken leg or not, he and Mr. Obama make up the lamest of the lame — actually, the most incompetent — of negotiators.

If that were not enough to prove the impossibility of success in the Iran negotiations, consider the recently leaked Pentagon report on Iran’s military power. It says, in part, that, despite the November 2013 interim agreement, Iran hasn’t changed its national security and military strategies over the past year. It says Ayatollah Khamenei remains atop the Iranian power structure and is the commander in chief of its military. Most importantly, it says Iran has continued its development of ballistic missiles to counter the threats it perceives from the United States and its allies, including Israel.

Those ballistic missiles, which will be nuclear-capable, are not even included in the Obama-Kerry negotiations. They will be outside any possible deal.

In every political failure, how the Obama administration reacts to criticism is a good gauge of the seriousness of the failure. The apparent — and probably temporary — failure of The New York Times to toe the administration’s line has brought about a strong reaction from the Obama team.

Both State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes have tried to discredit the report by attacking the Times reporters who wrote the story and assuring the press that Iran has “consistently” lived up to the interim deal. (Ms. Harf’s credibility is, to say the least, questionable and should be judged by her previous statements. She declared last February that the way to stop the Islamic State from massacring civilians was to create jobs for ISIS fighters.)

At this stage there is nothing on the merits to propel further negotiations with Iran. The Iranians have, from the beginning, taken the maximalist positions to force an agreement that will be on their terms and enable them to continue their development of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them anywhere in the Middle East, Europe and eventually to any target in the world.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have proceeded with the negotiations unwilling to accept a basic fact: In the 36 years since the Iranian revolution, there is not a single instance in which diplomacy has succeeded in changing Iran’s course of action. To believe this agreement will is to deny history. It will only serve to ensure that, whenever it desires to, Iran will develop and deploy nuclear weapons.

Jed Babbin served as a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration. He is a senior fellow of the London Center for Policy Research and the author of five books including “In the Words of Our Enemies.”

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