The perfect piece of news to crown this morning’s capitulation in eastern Europe. Note well: As recently as last night, U.S. intel officials were leaking to the Obama spin shop at Newsweek that they still have no evidence that Iran restarted its weapons program after 2003. Now here comes ElBaradei, an Iranian stooge of such shamelessness that he actually got caught trying to bury incriminating evidence against Tehran just last week, to sheepishly admit that things are rather more nuanced than American intelligence believes.

Experts at the world’s top atomic watchdog are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead, according to a secret report seen by The Associated Press…

The document says Iran has “sufficient information” to build a bomb. It says Iran is likely to “overcome problems” on developing a delivery system.

It’s not clear what this means, exactly, but it sounds like Iran’s now roughly in the position Japan is: They’ve figured out how to highly-enrich uranium and have the necessary centrifuge technology in place to do the job if and when they need to. The question is how many HEU-capable centrifuges are in their arsenal, which in turn will determine how quickly they can churn out a bomb; for a gloss on that, revisit that little detail I mentioned yesterday about there being 10-15 secret nuclear sites in Iran even by the estimates of our own dopey intel services.

But never mind that. Let’s get back to that minor detail about a missile delivery system, since it’s rather highly germane to the big news of the day. The One assured us this morning that our crack Iran intelligence unit thinks Tehran will be focused on short- and medium-range missiles in the near future, thereby obviating the need for a robust missile shield. Any particular reason to trust that assessment given how wrong — and wrongly politicized — Iranian intelligence estimates have been in the past? Over to you, NRO:

In a remarkable feat of doublespeak, Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have tried to portray the move as an embrace of missile defense that will enhance our security. Rather than focusing on long-range threats from Iran, they say, the United States now will concentrate on short-range threats.

That’s an example of short-range thinking. A robust system of missile defense never has demanded such trade-offs. Instead, it calls for a sophisticated architecture that counters threats in different forms. Intelligence estimates have forecast that Iran could develop intercontinental rockets by 2015. This morning, Obama and Gates insisted that these estimates are mistaken. If Iran has in fact slowed down its work in this area — a claim that national-security experts have questioned — it may have been in response to American determination to construct a NATO-approved system in Eastern Europe. Today’s announcement may persuade Tehran to reconsider and look for ways to exploit a new vulnerability. As Donald Rumsfeld once warned, weakness is provocative.

Indeed it is, which is why Sunni states in the Gulf are now scrambling to install their own missile systems and why, as ABC tersely notes, “There is real fear and some expectation here of a military confrontation.”

As for the Russian end of this, you’ll be pleased to know that in return for our signaling that we won’t interfere in Moscow’s sphere of influence in eastern Europe, Russia’s foreign minister decided to flip us the bird this morning over our demand for new sanctions against Iran. Apparently there was no quid pro quo for abandoning two European allies, a point Gibbs grudgingly admitted in today’s briefing. So evidently disgusted was Poland’s prime minister by the betrayal, in fact, that he refused to take a call late last night from U.S. diplomats and then another this morning from Hillary. Said Solidarity hero Lech Walesa:

“American has always cared only about its own interests, and those of others only serve the US. Now we have another example of this,” he said in a television interview. “I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing towards this part of Europe. We should reconsider our approach to the United States.”

A Czech politician put it more bluntly: “If the administration approaches us in the future with any request, I would be strongly against it.” Here’s video of The One’s Orwellian presser this morning, in which weakness equals strength and failing to obtain a single concrete concession while capitulating to a major rival constitutes “smart power.” You’re a hell of a poker player, Barry.

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Tags: Barack Obama