Appearing on ABC's "This Week," the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, affirmed what clear-thinking folks already know: Iran wants a nuclear weapon.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on to the issue of Iran. You said that Iran is on a path to building nuclear weapons. But the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded with a high degree of confidence that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons programs. So do you believe that intelligence estimate is outdated? Is it no longer accurate?
MULLEN: Well, I believe then and I still believe that Iran's strategic objective is to achieve nuclear weapons, and that that path continues. Their leadership is committed to it. They conducted a missile test this last week that was successful, which continues to improve their missile delivery system and capability. Their intent seems very clear to me, and I'm one who believes if they achieve that objective, that it is incredibly destabilizing for the region. And I think eventually for the world.
Admiral Mullen's answers also proved that every four-star is a politician, to some degree. When George Stephanopoulos asked if Iran might be bluffing about its nuclear intentions--afterall, the Supreme Leader has declared nukes to be immoral--the JCS Chairman used that query to endorse President Obama's "engagement" policy:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I guess, it's possible they could just be lying. But it does seem odd that a country that the Islamic Republic that bases its legitimacy on being a guardian of Islam that would develop weapons that it considers immoral. That would seem to undercut their own legitimacy.
MULLEN: Well, I think that speaks to the importance of the dialogue that President Obama has stated he wants to initiate and to really wring out, whether that's how the Supreme Leader feels. Certainly from what I've seen, Iran on a path to developing nuclear weapons.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't believe it? That they don't want nuclear weapons.
MULLEN: At this point no.
Admiral Mullen also said there is a "narrow window" to block Iran from realizing its nuclear ambitions. Readers will note that Mr. Stephanopoulos didn't press the JCS Chairman on a rather obvious question: how will months of additional talks--the approach favored by Mr. Obama--achieve that desired goal, when years of EU-led negotiations failed? And more importantly, why would Tehran abandon its nuclear goals, now that it is so close to achieving them?
There's also that lingering question of what the U.S. is prepared to do if diplomacy fails, as it almost certainly will. On that count, the Yaakov Lappin of the Jerusalem Post suggested last week that President Obama has "come to terms" with a nuclear Iran. That may be one reason that administration statements on Iran don't include the implied use of force--if Tehran fails to abandon its nuclear program.
That's one "change" that the mullahs can definitely believe in.