YAWN – AT 8:24 A.M. ET: The talks over Iran's nuclear program, held in Moscow between the major powers and Iranian representatives, have essentially collapsed. No one is hiding that fact. The only talks scheduled are technical ones.
The Washington Post, whose liberal editorial page is actually thoughtful on national-security issues, sums up the dilemma after the collapse:
If there is a positive aspect to this outcome, it is that the United States and its partners appear to be sticking to their position on what Iran must do to open the door to a diplomatic solution — and are prepared to let the process lapse. No further negotiations have been scheduled — only an experts’ session early next month to go over technical details, followed by contacts between the deputies and chiefs of the delegations. Western officials say further meetings will depend on whether Iran shows itself ready to carry out the package of steps originally proposed last month, including a freeze of its most advanced form of uranium enrichment, the export of its existing stockpile of that enriched uranium, and the closure of an underground processing facility known as Fordow. “The choice is Iran’s,” said Ms. Ashton’s statement.
The Obama administration must nevertheless be prepared to take an Iranian “no” for an answer. It should resist any effort by Russia or other members of the international coalition to weaken the steps that Iran must take, or to grant Tehran major sanctions relief for partial concessions. It should continue to reject recognition of an Iranian “right” to enrich uranium.
The United States and its allies also should have a strategy for quickly and significantly increasing the pressure on the Khamenei regime if the negotiations break down. Israel may press for military action; if that option is to be resisted, there must be a credible and robust alternative.
COMMENT: Even old Henry Kissinger said yesterday that the crunch with Iran will come in a matter of months. In other words, it will come right before our election.
It's been clear that Obama wants no disruptions to his election campaign. While most sane Americans would understand, and support, strong action against the Iranian nuclear program, Obama's base, with its heavy dependence on the committed left and its financial backers, might not.
In foreign policy, nothing is going well for this president right now. That is what happens when you project drift and weakness. The Iranians give the impression that they don't fear us, nor even take us seriously.
The crunch is indeed coming.
June 20, 2012