William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THIS IS COMPLETE GARBAGE – AT 8:23 A.M. ET:  The Iranians are yapping again.  The sad fact is that some in the West will fall for the line, allowing the mullahs to keep working on their nuclear weapon.  From Bloomberg:

Iran can ease western states’ concern over its nuclear activities if they fully recognize its right to operate a civilian nuclear program, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday, days before international talks in Kazakhstan.

Actually, the West has already recognized Iran's right to peaceful nuclear development.  It doesn't make any difference, though.  The Iranians keep repeating the line. 

If the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China “recognize our full rights for peaceful nuclear energy, this will show their goodwill,” Mehmanparast said at a press conference in Tehran that was aired by Iranian state television. “As for us, we will offer ways to remove concerns” that Iran’s nuclear program may have a military dimension.

I'd love to know what those "ways" are, and how many years it will take to negotiate them.

“Proper measures” can be taken by both sides, though each step taken needs to be “equal and proportionate,” Mehmanparast said.

In other words, you give us something, we won't give you much.

Iran is resuming stalled multilateral negotiations on its nuclear work with the group known as P5+1 on February 26 in Kazakhstan. The last round of talks between Iran and world powers were held in Moscow in June and failed to yield results. World powers asked the Islamic Republic to suspend production of 20 percent enriched uranium while Iran pressed for relief from financial and trade sanctions imposed because of its nuclear program.

COMMENT:  The Iranians are offering nothing.  Of course their nuclear program is nuclear.  No "civilian" program needs to be imbedded in rock-covered mountains. 

The key person in this whole affair is Barack Obama.  Will he actually carry out his pledge to prevent Iran from getting the bomb, or will he just manage the crisis until the next president takes over?  How will he know if Iran has succeeded, and would he ever admit it?

Those are the critical questions as we enter the key year in Iran's nuclear development.  The press doesn't seem much interested.  I mean, how does this compare with climate change,or Hillary's next move?  But Iran may turn out to be Obama's ultimate test.  My guess is that he won't absolutely fail, but will muddle along, keeping the issue in the zone of ambiguity, requiring him to take no drastic action.  Appointing men like Kerry and Hagel will not frighten the Iranians, it will amuse them.  We are not winning, and the man at the top is responsible.

February 19, 2013