Let’s grant that it is difficult to deal with masters of deception — all right, liars — like Iran. Apparently Western intelligence services have known for some time that Iran has been building a secret plant for nuclear enrichment. The plant is situated underground within a Revolutionary Guard base near Qom, a city of shrines and mosques and seminaries. The plant’s size, furthermore, is right for bomb building but not for civil purposes.
This is a matter that has to be discussed at the negotiations next Thursday with Iran upon which President Obama has staked his credibility. Someone must have leaked to the Iranians that the United States knew about the secret plant at Qom. So Iranian officials at the last minute delivered a note to say that indeed they had a small “pilot” nuclear facility there, further describing it as a “semi-industrial fuel enrichment facility,” whatever that may mean.
Obama, flanked by the British prime minster and the French president, for all the world looking like attentive waiters in a restaurant, then used a public platform to accuse Iran of representing a direct challenge to “the basic foundation of the non-proliferation regime.” Oh, is that what it is doing? The rest of us thought Iran was aiming to throw the United States out of the Middle East and diminish its world standing everywhere, develop missiles to threaten its homeland and eliminate allies like Israel, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia chucked in for good measure. Obama is going round in circles, meeting the trickery of the Iranians with illusions that they can be talked out of their ambitions, and confusing the issue with euphemisms that do not match the real danger of what is evolving.
Pretty well everyone in the know thinks that in this coming week Iran will concede nothing, fail to negotiate, break off the meeting, claim to be victorious and do whatever it can to humiliate Obama. He is going to have to spell out to the Iranians that he sees through their deceptions, and is not going to allow a re-ordering of the world on Iranian terms. Otherwise negotiations will merely have endangered the lives of millions of people.