What a surprise.
What a shock.
Or, as the stenographers in the mainstream media might say, this is certainly an unexpected development, like any increase in the unemployment numbers.
But in reality, the latest news out of Tehran won't surprise anyone, with the possible exception of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who keep insisting the nuclear deal with Iran is a good thing.
In fact, the President was on the hustings again this morning, delivering an hour-long speech that was nothing more than a feckless sales pitch for the nuclear accord. At times, his reasoning was almost incoherent, claiming the nuclear deal "builds on the diplomacy that won the cold war" Huh? We won the Cold War largely because Ronald Reagan refused to accept the reasoning of the striped-pants set, who claimed the Soviet Union was here to stay, and we had not choice but to make nice with Moscow. Reagan sensed the failed Soviet system was at a tipping point, and engaged in moves that infuriated Kremlin leaders and pushed their regime beyond the point of collapse.
But we digress. Failing to pass the Iranian deal, Mr. Obama asserted, would "pave the way" for the mullahs to get a nuclear bomb. There was a certain, bitter irony in that choice of words, since the agreement backed by the President and his secretary of state puts Iran on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power for the next 10 years. After that, Tehran can blithely stroll into the nuclear club--if they don't do it in the near term, by running a parallel, covert development program (as many believe they are), or simply renouncing the deal as a political expediency, then launching a breakout capability that would deliver a nuke in a matter of months.
Not to worry, Mr. Obama would argue. We have the means to ensure Iranian compliance (never mind the provision for 24 days notice ahead of inspections. Or the fact that some facilities may be off limits. Or that Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency have reached sidebar agreements--never approved by the U.S.--that may hinder our ability to monitor Tehran's development efforts.
Or that Iran will simply obfuscate and cheat, as it always does. Indeed, President Obama's teleprompter was still cooling off when Eli Lake and Josh Rogin penned a column for Bloomberg, warning that Iran was already sanitizing portions of a key nuclear site:
"The U.S. intelligence community has informed Congress of evidence that
Iran was sanitizing its suspected nuclear military site at Parchin, in
broad daylight, days after agreeing to a nuclear deal with world powers."
Intelligence officials and lawmakers who have seen the new evidence,
which is still classified, told us that satellite imagery picked up by
U.S. government assets in mid- and late July showed that Iran had moved
bulldozers and other heavy machinery to the Parchin site and that the
U.S. intelligence community concluded with high confidence that the
Iranian government was working to clean up the site ahead of planned
inspections by the IAEA.
A senior intelligence official, when asked about the satellite
imagery, told us the IAEA was also familiar with what he called
"sanitization efforts" since the deal was reached in Vienna, but that
the U.S. government and its allies had confidence that the IAEA had the
technical means to detect past nuclear work anyway.
administration official explained that this was in part because any
trace amounts of enriched uranium could not be fully removed between now
and Oct. 15, the deadline for Iran to grant access and answer remaining
questions from the IAEA about Parchin.
Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman Bob Corker told us Tuesday that while Iran’s activity
at Parchin last month isn’t technically a violation of the agreement it
signed with the U.S. and other powers, it does call into question
Iran’s intention to be forthright about the possible military dimensions
of its nuclear program.
It wouldn't be the first time Iran has engaged in this type of subterfuge. More than a decade ago, government officials suddenly bulldozed a suspect facility at a university in Tehran, after opposition groups said it was being used for nuclear weapons research.
Mr. Obama claims the agreement is built on verification, but it's difficult to confirm what Iran is up to when inspectors have to give Tehran more than three weeks' notice of pending inspections--and the regime is already hard at work sanitizing sites inspectors may be allowed to visit. Additionally, it would be very helpful to know what is in those "secret" agreements between Iran and the IAEA. For all we know, the international atomic watchdog agency may have granted "friendly" terms to Tehran, further limiting the scope of inspections, further limiting our ability to ensure Iranian compliance.
But don't worry about such trivial details, Mr. Obama might say. If the Senate doesn't approve the accord, he claims, the only other options is war. So, we need to keep the mullahs happy and sign on to a badly flawed agreement and worry about the consequences later. In the interim, there's a presidential legacy to burnish, and Mr. Kerry is waiting for a phone call from the Nobel committee.
As Charles Krauthammer observed a few weeks ago, President Obama wants another achievement for his administration; Secretary Kerry wants a Nobel Peace Prize (as a possible springboard into the 2016 presidential race) and Iran wants a nuclear bomb. Sadly, it looks like everyone will get what they want. And millions of Americans, Israelis and Gulf State Arabs will have to live--and die--by that calculus.