William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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HAPPINESS – AT 10:24 A.M. ET:  In Iran, apparently, happiness is a thing called Obama's re-election.  I can understand it.  Despite all the hoopla over sanctions, nothing has happened under Obama to slow Iran's march toward nuclear weapons.  From a former clandestine CIA operative, in the Washington Times:

In his first news conference after re-election, President Obama said there was still time for a diplomatic solution on Iran’s nuclear program and that Iran could enjoy “peaceful nuclear power” if it meets international obligations.

Diplomacy has failed and international sanctions, though having some effect, have not persuaded the radicals ruling Iran to stop their illicit nuclear program. The economic screws must be tightened.

Iranian leaders did not hide their satisfaction in Mr. Obama’s re-election and the prospect of more negotiations, which, in their view, will buy them more time to develop nuclear weapons.

Professor Pirooz Mojtahedzade, who teaches political geography at Tehran University, said in a recent interview, “Perhaps one reason for Obama’s success in his re-election campaign was his opposition to the warmongering Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] of Israel, which officially eliminated the effect of the Zionist lobby in presidential elections, and the result of this is that the Israel lobby will not have much effect on U.S. politics in the next four years...

...It is with this belief that the regime has successfully dragged out international talks about its illicit nuclear program over the past four years while making significant progress toward nuclear weapons.

When Mr. Obama took office in 2009, the Islamic regime had barely enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb. Today, it has enough for six, if further enriched. In 2009, Iran was enriching uranium at one facility in Natanz. Today, enrichment goes on with thousands more centrifuges spinning at another facility in Fordo. The latter is deep underground and immune to airstrikes. In 2009, the regime was limited to 3.5 percent enrichment. Now, it is enriching to 20 percent, a significant step toward weaponization. Most alarming is that the regime is within days of ramping up production of 20 percent-level uranium, doubling its output. This would cut in half the time needed to acquire enough highly enriched uranium for a bomb.

A Nov. 16 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated that it has received further information that “Iran has carried out activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear device.” This is while Iran has stonewalled an IAEA request for months to inspect the military site at Parchin, where it is believed the regime tested an explosive device that could help with the development of a nuclear weapon.

COMMENT:  Of all the challenges we face in foreign policy, this may well be the greatest.  An Iran with a nuclear weapon would be like the Japan of World War II with nuclear-equipped kamikazes.  The Iranian regime is theocratic and fanatical.  It may not act like rational, if evil regimes like the former Soviet Union.  Two nuclear devices smuggled into American harbors in the holds of cargo ships, and set off by suicide teams, would devastate America.

Is Obama prepared to take drastic action to prevent this prospect?  His allies say that he "got" bin Laden.  (Actually, if I recall, it was the Navy SEALs.)  But the taking out of one target is vastly different from confronting a major nation.

Obama's real test is still to come.  I think the odds are no better than 50-50 that he'll pass it.

November 25, 2012