LATEST FROM THE FRIENDLY MULLAHS – AT 10:45 A.M. ET: Iran seems to be in the news every day, as the U.S. tries to engage it, Obama-style, in still one more round of negotiations over its nuclear program. From London's Sunday Times:
IRAN'S leading nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, is believed to have travelled to North Korea to observe its third nuclear test last week, according to Western intelligence sources.
Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi has ventured outside Iran rarely, if at all, since several Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated.
He was in charge of developing a warhead small enough to fit one of the ballistic missiles developed by Iran from North Korean prototypes, the sources said. His trip may have been worth the risk because North Korea's announcement of the blast hinted that it was a compact, powerful device.
Iran maintains it is pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but North Korea openly declares it is building weapons as a deterrent to the "hostile" US and its allies.
It is widely believed that North Korea is "testing" on behalf of Iran, as well as itself. If Iran can test in North Korea, it can mask the perfection of its own nuclear weapon, not a pretty prospect.
We learned this week that the Western powers are willing to ease some sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran shutting down its Fordow uranium-enrichment plant. Here, apparently, is the Iranian reply:
DUBAI - Iran will never shut down its Fordow uranium enrichment plant, a senior legislator was quoted as saying on Sunday, brushing off a demand from world powers who fear Tehran is working to develop an atomic weapons capability.
The Islamic republic, which insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful, started building the plant inside a mountain in secret as early as 2006, to protect it from air strikes.
Last week, Reuters reported world powers were planning to offer to ease sanctions barring trade in gold and other precious metals with Iran in return for steps to shut down Fordow.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, referred to the reported offer on Sunday and dismissed any idea of a closure, the Iranian Students' News Agency reported.
"Fordow will never be shut down because ... our national duty is to be able to defend our nuclear and vital centers against an enemy threat," Boroujerdi was quoted as saying by the agency.
COMMENT: What, precisely, is there left to negotiate with Iran? Each days that goes by brings the mullahs closer to the nuclear weapon. We say that we'll prevent them from getting that device, but so far we seem powerless. Sanctions haven't worked. Threats haven't worked. The Iranians see our weak response to the North Korean tests.
And John Kerry and Chuck Hagel have been world-class Iran appeasers.
We are not in a good position.
February 17, 2013