Obama and Netanyahu aid Khamenei’s campaign for Iran’s next president
The Obama administration was unmoved by the IAEA finding that Iran had installed 180 advanced centrifuges had been installed at Natanz. Indeed, the White House said Thursday, Feb. 21 that “a diplomatic solution is still possible” for resolving nuclear issues with Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency report came out the next day: The new IR-1m centrifuges installed in Natanz were said to enrich uranium three times faster than the outdated machines used at Natanz until now, considerably shortening Tehran’s path to a nuclear bomb. The IAEA also noted faster than expected progress in setting up the Arak plant for producing plutonium.
These findings mean that the red line drawn by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu before the UN General Assembly last September – when he said Iran must not be permitted to stock 250 kilos of near weapons-grade uranium of 20 percent purity – is approaching faster than the “late-spring-early summer” deadline he set for stopping Iran before it can build a nuclear bomb.
Yet, in the response to the IAEA finding of Thursday, Netanyahu’s office said only, that the report's findings "prove that Iran continues to advance quickly to the red line" and "Iran is closer than ever to achieving enrichment for a nuclear bomb."
Administration sources report that the US is continuing to push Iran for one-on-one talks after the six powers face Iran in Kazakhstan on Feb. 26 – even though a secret round a couple of months ago was a flop. Gary Samore, the Obama aide who set it up, has since quit the White House and moved over to Harvard University.
Yet Barack Obama stands by diplomatic engagement and “increased pressure” (sanctions) as the sole means of preventing Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has put the US president on the spot, debkafile’s intelligence sources report: He is calling in a debt. He respected Obama’s request to refrain from spoiling his campaign for reelection in November and held back from delivering the “October surprise” widely predicted by US media.
Now, Tehran faces a presidential election in June and Khamenei wants to be sure that the US doesn’t upset his plans. His foremost aspiration is to block the path of the retiring president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s in-law to the presidency and replace him with a nondescript, uncharismatic figure handpicked by himself who is also a competent administrator and qualified to haul Iran out of its economic morass. Not all of Iran’s troubles are caused by sanctions; Ahmadinejad’s reign has seen plenty of dysfunction and corruption.
Extreme violence is already bedeviling the Iranian campaign up to and including threats of assassination. The supreme ruler is bidding the Obama administration for some peace on quiet on the diplomatic front.
According to our sources, Iran’s stormy election campaign will hold Tehran back from any real diplomatic breakthrough or progress toward definitive nuclear weaponization until a new president is elected and forms a government, some time in the fall.
At the same time, the ayatollah is playing a complex double game by keeping diplomatic tensions high and avoiding any real dialogue with Washington. Indeed, he may even welcome tougher sanctions and military threats for boosting his candidate for president and letting Ahmadinejad’s candidate in for punishment at the hands of the suffering Iranian voter.
Hence, the crossed signals from Washington, Europe, Israel and the IAEA. On the one hand, alarm over Tehran’s rapid advance toward a nuclear weapon capability, while on the other, insistence on doing nothing substantial beyond futile palaver to stop it. All four are playing into the ayatollah’s hands.