President Obama told the BBC in an interview that he views Iran’s nuclear-power ambitions as “legitimate,” as long as they prove that the program won’t produce nuclear weapons. The softball clearly aims to generate some diplomatic thaw within Tehran, but it ignores a rather large fact — and that fact is rather dispositive towards Iran’s intentions:
President Barack Obama suggested that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy _ provided it proves by the end of the year that its aspirations are peaceful.
In a BBC interview broadcast Tuesday, he also restated plans to pursue direct diplomacy with Tehran to encourage it set aside any ambitions for nuclear weapons it might harbor.
Iran has insisted its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. But the U.S. and other Western governments accuse Tehran of seeking atomic weapons.
“What I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations,” Obama said, adding that the international community also “has a very real interest” in preventing a nuclear arms race.
The president has indicated a willingness to seek deeper international sanctions against Tehran if it does not respond positively to U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Obama has said Tehran has until the end of the year to show it wants to engage with Washington.
The inconvenient fact? Iran has all the resources it needs for energy production now. In fact, with the money they’ve spent on nuclear technology, they could have built oil refineries that would have reduced or eliminated their depending on imports for gasoline, producing it themselves from their own abundant supply. Absent sanctions, Iran could make a mint each year off of oil revenues and produce all the energy they need for domestic consumption, too.
So why do they pursue nuclear power? They want it for something other than energy production, although they’ll take that, too. Since they also spend a lot of money testing and launching rockets these days, the conclusion is a lot less difficult than Obama makes it. Iran has mainly illegitimate motives for pursuing nuclear technology.
In this effort, Obama seems to be begging Tehran to take “yes” for an answer. He wants to drop the entire nuclear standoff, preferring to run car and train companies and remake the American economic system. Iran distracts from that effort, which is why he keeps floating these trial balloons to the mullahs in Iran, attempting to find ways to withdraw from the standoff while minimizing the loss to American credibility.
Joe Biden warned us that the world would test Obama if we elected him President. If they’re taking his measure, the dictators and kleptocrats can’t be too impressed — but I’m sure they’re delighted.
Update: More humorous than offensive:
In a new overture to Iran, the Obama administration has authorized U.S. embassies around the world to invite Iranian officials to Independence Day parties they host on or around July 4th.
A State Department cable sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late last week said that U.S. diplomats could ask their Iranian counterparts to attend the festivities, which generally feature speeches about American values, fireworks, hot dogs and hamburgers.
Think the Iranians will rush to celebrate the birth of the nation they call the Great Satan?