- - Monday, January 26, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The clock is ticking on efforts to halt Iran’s quest for the bomb, and time is running out. When it does, the folly of allowing a rogue state to threaten the Middle East — and the world — with the bomb will be exposed in stark and horrifying relief. Neville Chamberlain was the face of appeasement in the 20th century; Barack Obama would be that face in the 21st.

There are many moving parts in the tug of war between Western powers and the Islamic republic, but one of those parts has not moved. Tehran is determined to transform the region, and the world, by achieving the weapon to crush the Jewish state and intimidate everyone else. A dozen years at the negotiating table has changed nothing. Ali Khamenei, the mullah who is the supreme leader of Iran, tells his Twitter followers that “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.”

Iran, by the calculations of analysts in the West, has manufactured sufficient enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon in three months. All the P5-plus-1 negotiators from the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany can hope to accomplish is to extend the regime’s breakout timetable to 12 months. The Jerusalem Post reported last week that Iran has now produced an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range that would take it beyond Europe. Such a missile armed with a nuclear warhead would threaten hundreds of millions of people. Time flies while the talkers jibber-jabber, and those three months would come and go before the talkers finish clearing their throats.

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat, has had enough. Breaking ranks with President Obama, he and Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, a Republican, have introduced legislation to strengthen economic sanctions against Iran unless the mullahs quit their stalling. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, a Republican, has offered a softer bill that would require Senate approval of a nuclear deal with Iran. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes the usual plea for patience, offering the usual forlorn hope for an interim agreement in March that could be made final by June. After that there will more interim hopes, more extensions of talks that go nowhere. Dispensing with the usual niceties, Mr. Menendez says the White House is using talking points “straight out of Tehran.”

House Speaker John Boehner is tired of the stalling game, too. That’s why he invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress on March 3. He might stiffen a few backbones. The White House, embarrassed, wants to talk about a breach of protocol, not about the threat of the Islamic bomb. Mr. Obama warns that strengthening sanctions could trigger war. If Mr. Obama wants to take counsel with his fear, the mullahs are happy to supply the fear.

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, characterizes the Obama strategy for reaching a binding nuclear agreement with the mullahs as “a complete illusion.” Given the sudden collapse of Yemen despite recent assurances that the Gulf nation had become a model of Foggy Bottom success, betting against an illusion is a wise bet. White House spokesman Josh Earnest conceded Friday that the chance that negotiators in Geneva would sign an agreement with Iran are “50-50 at best.” Risking so much on flimsy illusion is a fool’s game.

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