Iran signaled a fresh willingness to compromise Monday as new talks loom on its nuclear program. Maybe that shows Iran’s leaders are taking seriously President Barack Obama’s recent warning that this is their “last chance” to reach a nuclear accord.
Or maybe Iran is again playing us — and the rest of the world — for time.
Either way, the U.S. must not keep letting Iran slide past one “last chance” after another on the way to obtaining a nuclear arsenal. And any agreement must be completely verifiable by international observers with full access to Iranian nuclear sites.
Meanwhile, despite “last chance” warnings from multiple U.S. presidents over the last two decades, North Korea is on the verge of more ballistic missile tests, possibly as soon as late this week.
Israeli leaders are pondering a last chance, too — their last chance to launch an effective air strike to prevent Iran from gaining nukes.
The expert consensus is that given the pace of Iran’s nuclear march and the capabilities of Israel’s air force, the timing window for a successful Israeli military strike is closing fast. After that option is shut off, only a U.S. or allied air strike could accomplish that task.
President Obama has repeatedly offered assurances that the U.S. will not permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But considering the Holocaust-infused history of the Jewish people, the Jewish state is understandably reluctant to rely on any other nation for its defense.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that crucial point last month during a visit to the U.S. He said Israel will remain “the master of its fate,” explaining that “I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.”
That shadow would be darkly cast indeed if Iran, the world’s top sponsor of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, gets nuclear arms.
Assumptions of logical conduct by Iran could again prove tragically naive. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly and enthusiastically called for the destruction of Israel. And the ayatollahs who actually run Iran have also consistently expressed their commitment to Israel’s doom while rejecting international demands that they give up their nuclear ambitions.
So the reported proposal from Iran to “eventually” stop producing the highly enriched uranium needed for those weapons should be taken with a grain of salt by representatives of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members (the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France) and Germany at the next round of talks, scheduled to start Friday in Istanbul.
On a positive note, The New York Times reported Saturday reported the Obama administration plans to take a “hard-line approach” backed by not just severe economic sanctions but by the threat of military action.
White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said late last week: “Our position is clear: Iran must live up to its international obligations, including full suspension of uranium enrichment as required by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Just as clearly, the outcome of the coming negotiations could trigger Israeli military action. And that, in turn, could be a global-oil-market trigger point that would boost U.S. gas prices well above already painfully high levels.
Thus, the enormity of the stakes in the looming talks with Iran are obvious.
So should be the potentially catastrophic folly of taking the current Iranian regime’s word for anything.